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Student Blog: Pittsburgh Playhouse's Dance Nation: Final Curtain Call

Here is the final blog concluding the work of the Pittsburgh Playhouse's Dance Nation!

Student Blog: Pittsburgh Playhouse's Dance Nation: Final Curtain Call The Pittsburgh Playhouse's production of Dance Nation has concluded. With viewing available anytime between April 28 and May 2, the filmed play aired over ShowTix4U, with three additional viewing options; closed captions, asl, and audio description. The show's virtual program can be found here featuring my special dramaturg note on pages 4 and 5, which I have included below!

Clare Barron's Dance Nation is a bold, innovative play, bringing audience members into the competitive, preteen dance world. Set in the Liverpool Dance Works studio, six girls and one boy practice for their upcoming competition with instruction from Dance Teacher Pat. Rivalry, betrayal, and jealousy arise when the team auditions for the role of Gandhi for their newest routine, a dance that will hopefully send them to nationals at Tampa Bay, Florida. When the spirit of Gandhi solo is given to the underdog Amina, prepubescent tension arises as the characters' worlds spin out of control!

Dance Nation explores coming of age, female sexuality, and ambition through the eyes of adults. Yes, although the cast is a group of preteens, Barron's character description calls for adults of various ages and backgrounds. The essence of the script encourages the performers' bodies to haunt the tween characters, as the tween characters are haunted by their future.

Barron focuses on the female experience, dating from pre-puberty to adulthood. Drawing memories from her own life, she covers everything. Periods. Relationships. Sex. Body image. Self-harm. Mental health. Sexual harassment. Friendships. Family dynamics. Drive...All through the female eye. The comedic crudeness and authenticity of Barron's writing are paired perfectly with dynamic monologues from the characters about their future endeavors. The peculiar dance routines called for in the script additionally support the characters' exploration and liberation of the female body.

This play is a demanding piece of theatre that requires audiences to explore, question, and reconstruct our current society's definition of female sexuality. The relationship each audience member has with Dance Nation is a clear reflection of one's attributes to the patriarch we are immersed in. The work is not meant to appear crude, repulsive, or inappropriate. Instead, the play requires a mature, progressive eye that is unafraid of the female experience.

Under the direction of Kelly Trumbell, the Pittsburgh Playhouse's production of Dance Nation embraces the boldness of Barron's work while adding new, exciting elements to the production. This performance has rehearsed, filmed, and aired during the COVID-19 pandemic. Casting occurred virtually, while rehearsals and tech occurred in person, following strict guidelines and protocols. As safety and the playwright's intent are top priorities of this production, Trumbull has set this performance during the pandemic as well. The characters are just like us. They wear masks. They social distance. They feel the effects of a global pandemic.

The rehearsal process, tech, and filming of this production of Dance Nation were nearly as enticing as the performance you will shortly see. Utilizing the theatrical practice of etudes for each scene, Trumbull led the cast through improvisations, where conversations of the performers' childhood, present, and future arose. Implementing their discoveries and interpretations of the work, each cast member has their own story to tell. The team of Dance Nation tells their stories through active setting, lighting, sounds, and costumes that support the filmed, theatrical performance.


Collaboration, trust, and ambition were the key ingredients of this production. While the effects, restrictions, and limitations of the pandemic were challenging to handle, the cast, crew, and team of the Pittsburgh Playhouse's Dance Nation surely won the gold for this performance!

All in all, the filming of the Playhouse's performance successfully translated the work of the stage onto the screen. Utilizing only minor adjustments, such as zoom-ins and close-ups, the piece remained a theatrical performance, captured by the work of three different cameras on two separate runs of the show. From Zoom, through COVID safe rehearsals, to the final filmed performance, the Pittsburgh Playhouse's Dance Nation defied boundaries, ultimately paving for new, innovative, bold theatre to follow!


For more inside information about this production, please utilize my dramaturg hub: https://sites.google.com/view/dramaturgydancenation/home?authuser=0


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