Kelly Strayhorn celebrates a Diamond in the Rough

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Kelly Stayhorn Executive Director Janera Solomon hopes that the theater’s summer series “Celebrate East Liberty” will get people to appreciate the diversity of East Liberty and the artists that come out of the town.

“The Kelly Strayhorn is proud to be here in East Liberty,” Solomon said. “Summer is typically a quiet time for theaters and we created a residency program for artists to grow and develop ideas during weeklong residencies at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.”

JaneraSolomon
JANERA SOLOMON

All are open to the public during the residencies and each Friday performance affords the audience the opportunity to experience a work-in-progress showing, which is the culmination of the residency.

The event, now in its third year, celebrates dynamic performances, which will entice artists, business owners, residents and non-residents of East Liberty to share in the rich heritage of the area.

Zany Umbrella Circus, a young group of performers whose founder is from the Pittsburgh area, opens the “Celebrate East Liberty” summer series. Set in 1920’s Paris, the show tells the story of Mirette, a young girl who realizes she was born to walk the tight wire. As a result, she forms an unlikely friendship with a tight-wire walking superstar. The show will run from July 7-9. Performances will be held at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“They have performed worldwide. They are a great young group of performers and the show is appealing to all ages,” Solomon said.

Anyone who enjoys energetic African dance will definitely enjoy the Columbus-based Baker and Tarpanga Dance Project, which will make its way onto the Kelly Strayhorn stage July 15 for two performances of “Disorder Inside Order” at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. “Disorder Inside Order,” is a work-in-progress that explores the consequences of the search for truth.

“People who love dance and East African dance especially, will find this different and exciting,” Solomon said.

In partnership with the Hill House, the Kelly Strayhorn sponsoring the jazz café to be held at the Kaufmann Center in the Hill District. Roger Humphries will be bringing his unique blend of music to the intimate setting July 10.

“People in the community wanted Jazz back at the Kaufmann Center. We chose Roger Humphries because he is the representative of Pittsburgh jazz and he’s an inspiration to the young artists in the jazz genre,” Solomon explained. “The event is not at the Kelly Strayhorn or in East Liberty, but I hope that ­people come out and enjoy it.”

The “Celebrate East Liberty” series continues in August with the Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra. This group of talented diverse performers from Pittsburgh challenge the typical conception of what it is to be an orchestra.

Two performances will be held Aug. 5, one at 11 a.m. and another at 8 p.m.

Staycee Pearl dance project takes the Kelly Strayhorn stage Aug. 12 with one performance at 8 a.m. On Aug. 19, Maria Caruso of Pittsburgh’s own Bodiography will perform sectional sentiment at 8 p.m.

The summer series culminates with Gene Kelly’s Birthday bash with an afternoon of interactive fun and activities.

(For information on any of the summer series performances, visit http://www.kelly-strayhorn.org.)

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