“With streamlined choreography, skilled dancers, exquisite costuming and well-suited sound, everything about the piece worked. Simmons not only sparked my interest in the subject matter, but also had me longing to get back to the Aviary and learn more.”
-Adrienne Barr Totino
For the full review of Passenger written by critic and Pittsburgh writer Adrienne Barr Totino visit:
Coal Hill Review
photo: David Rowell
SHANA SIMMONS DANCE (SSD) presented, PASSENGER, a full length contemporary dance work, premiered to the public on November 14 and 15, 2014 at the National Aviary (PGH). Through this full sensory performance environment of choreography, sound, and visual spectacular - the audience was challenged to think about the impact of extinction and how it relates to them.
The creative process for choreographer and director, Shana Simmons, included research of the bird’s habits, history, and extinction. Simmons and five dancers (Kerra Alexander, Ashley Kostelnik, Jessica Marino, Jamie Erin Murphy, and Brady Sanders) examined bird movements and creatively built dance phrases to explore the comparison of bird behavior (migration, flocking) to human behavior, the consumption of resources, and how it connects to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. The result is a full sensory performance, where the audience observes the dancers from multiple perspectives
in different rooms of the Aviary. While the musical score is in collaboration with Ian Green, a special highlight of Passenger included a powerful and tragic vocal solo by international opera singer, Anna Singer.
PASSENGER, was part of nationwide initiative, Project Passenger Pigeon, a group founded by Chicago native Joel Greenberg. Once the most abundant bird in North America, the passenger pigeon became extinct in just forty years by the early 1900's, and now, this group has been formed to spread awareness surrounding the centennial anniversary of extinction. SSD is the only performance based artist in the U.S. involved in this project.
As part of the national effort, SSD is specifically a part of the Project Passenger Pigeon Pittsburgh group. This is a coalition of Pittsburgh-area environmental organizations, educational institutions, and artists who are offering public programs, educational displays, and art exhibitions and performances to commemorate the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. We are affiliated with Project Passenger Pigeon, a national effort to bring attention to this anniversary. Please see a complete listing of our programs at passengerpigeonpittsburgh.org.
This project was made possible through the Heinz Small Arts Initiative and The National Aviary.
Choreography: Shana Simmons
Music: Ian Green
Dancers: Kerra Alexander, Ashley Bassett, Jessica Marino, Jamie Erin Murphy, Brady Sanders
Performed at The National Aviary, Pittsburgh PA
**This project is available to tour as a full length production. Run time approximately 45 minutes. This piece can be expanded or edited to fit necessary time slots. PASSENGER is adaptable to all sizes of spaces: prosceniums, outdoor settings, in the round theaters, and non traditional spaces (lobbies, zoos, etc). PASSENGER can be performed with 4-20 dancers and is available for re-setting on companies. **