What you notice first about local choreographer/dancer Megan Pitcher is her intense enthusiasm for dance and confident determination. Besides running her company, MegLouise Dance, she teaches dance at Tri-C and recently opened a west-side rehearsal and teaching studio. This weekend, her company kicks off Cleveland Public Theatre's annual Danceworks series.
Pitcher and her nine-member cast will premiere Outside the Lines, a collection of five new works related to poems by Mary Oliver, Stephen Dunn, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson and Anne Sexton.
The show was inspired by Pitcher's frustration at taking on other people's priorities instead of focusing on what she thought was important. She felt a growing desire for a "change of priorities" in her life and a need to "dig deeper into what's actually important."
The foundation and initial impetus for the show is the Dickinson-inspired "To live is so startling ... " a trio choreographed by Pitcher. It explores feelings of frustration — the proverbial hitting your head against the wall and the recognition that priorities need to be reorganized.
Family, personal wellness and community rank high on Pitcher's list of what is important to her, and her pieces reflect that. Set to music by Arvo Pärt, "To come so far, to taste so good" is a duet inspired by her relationship with her sister. Another piece, "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves" contrasts task-oriented movement with a structured improvisation that involves touch.
Inspired by Anne Sexton's poem "Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women," Pitcher's closing work is a "movement-for-movement's-sake" piece for eight dancers. Set to a remix of jazz and funk, it highlights Pitcher's style, which she describes as "snaky, juicy, undulating, sequential, weighted, with momentum" and "voluptuous."
Also on the program is a quartet choreographed by local dancer Sara Whale. "O God, how shall I ever clear the phone table? (part one)" is inspired by Plath's poem "Words heard, by accident, over the phone." It's about one's "inner critic and the voices that sit on your shoulder," says Pitcher.