new hazlett

The Reduction Documentation Begins by David Bernabo

The task of editing the five cameras worth of footage from last year's The Reduction has started.

The Reduction
by David Bernabo

An evening length movement work
Mario Ashkar    (+ videography)
Lenka Clayton
JoAnna Dehler
Ru Emmons-Apt
Darin Gray
Heather Mull (+ videography)
Lauryn Petrick
Stephanie Tsong (+ videography)

This work is both a culmination of 14 years of work in music, art, film, and dance and the first attempt to combine those efforts into a formal theater work. This work deals with various layers of realities, simulations, and perspectives. We are looking at how context, time, and positioning alters how an image, an action, or a sound is interpreted. By using improvisation, use of shared choreography generation, non-performer interference, we are looking at definitions of authenticity and ownership, controls within systems, and how formal considerations within “theater” can extend into the “real” world.

Behind the Reduction: The Camera Crew by David Bernabo

So, The Reduction is scored for four dancers, three camerapersons, and one musician. Our three camerapersons are Heather Mull, Mario Ashkar, and Stephanie Tsong

If we take it back to 2007, that's when I met Heather Mull. Heather photographed me jumping from a wicker chair in the Woolslayer Way alley/street outside of my previous dwelling. The photo was for the 2007 City Paper City Guide. Heather has worked for City Paper for a while also freelancing for Table Magazine, Pittsburgh Magazine, Keystone Edge, CMU, Quantum Theater, and a bunch of others. Heather has a great eye for composition and color - there are a number of wonderful photographs from her invovlement in the Kliptown Photography Project. Heather was gracious enough to perform in MODULES 10, which was performed at Wood Street Galleries as a MODULES dance for solo dancer and three camerapersons. I'm very excited to see what develops (pun somewhat intended, but also not quite accurate) at Thursday's performance. Here are a few photos from Heather:

Outdoor Barber, photograph by Heather Mull.    Purchase info

Outdoor Barber, photograph by Heather Mull.  
Purchase info

Photographer Duane Michals, photograph by Heather Mull 

Photographer Duane Michals, photograph by Heather Mull 

Choreographer Kyle Abraham, photograph by Heather Mull 

Choreographer Kyle Abraham, photograph by Heather Mull 

Mario Ashkar is one of the more active people I know. Video work, photography, event promotion. I met Mario at the first Lightlab event that choreographer/dancer/musician Taylor Knight and I created. Was that 2013? Mario presented a video called DESIGNING WOMEN-A PHOTO LECTURE, which was part video screening and performance/lecture. Mario has created a lot of work with the moon baby and slowdanger and a number of music videos and films. Here are a few recent pieces from Mario.

The third installment in a series with Pittsburgh art gallery and residency BUNKER Projects that both documents the installation work of artists and allows for new narratives to form from the works. Traffic, an installation piece from Andrew Hieronymi, is reimagined in this short and brought to life through movement by Grace Byrne and music from Slowdanger available at

A bit of NSFW in this next one:


And now, the very near past. Designer/illustrator/photograher Stephanie Tsong and I met at this year's MakerDate fundraiser for Assemble Gallery. I believe we talked a lot about film at the event and had a follow-up conversation about tools for editing video. Stephanie has a large body of work that spans etchings, silkscreen, lithograph, sketchbook, and photography (you know, with film). Here are a few great pieces:

Waiting for a Paycheck, Pt. 1  etching, graphite, and aluminum foil. 10″x14″.

Waiting for a Paycheck, Pt. 1
etching, graphite, and aluminum foil. 10″x14″.

Waiting for a Paycheck, Pt. 2  etching, graphite, paper collage. 10″x14″ .

Waiting for a Paycheck, Pt. 2
etching, graphite, paper collage. 10″x14″.

photograph, 125i Silk in SF

photograph, 125i Silk in SF

Eclipse Series handmade scroll. approx. 10 inches by 5 feet. wood, rives bfk, zinc plate etching. Specs: 10 inches tall by 5 feet long (unrolled). Each plate is 6 by 6 inches, 5 plates total. two color etching & aquatint.

Eclipse Series
handmade scroll. approx. 10 inches by 5 feet. wood, rives bfk, zinc plate etching.
Specs: 10 inches tall by 5 feet long (unrolled). Each plate is 6 by 6 inches, 5 plates total. two color etching & aquatint.


One of the great things about creating work is collaboration, and Pittsburgh is a very welcoming place for collaboration. I've worked on a number of projects where I meet a person and start up a collaboration and then a month later there is another collaboration and a tree of work forms. So, thank you to the three people above for lending their talents and interest to this project!

Behind The Reduction: Darin Gray by David Bernabo

So, our first performance of The Reduction is fast approaching. I'd like to take a bit of time to talk about the piece and the people involved in its creation. I thought I would start with the person that I have known the longest, bassist and all-around great person, Darin Gray.


You may have seen/heard Darin recently as the bassist in TWEEDY, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and son and friends, or his work in Chikamorachi with drummer Chris Corsano, or various shows with saxophonist Akira Sakata, Jim O'Rourke, Tyler Damon, and, of course, his duo with Glenn Kotche called On Fillmore.

On March 8, 2003, I met Darin at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. It appears that the internet can back this up. I was playing keys in the Pittsburgh band, Boxstep, and we were sharing a bill with On Fillmore. Azita, whose recent-at-the-time album I really loved, was headlining the evening. I remember Boxstep guitarist Daryl Fleming and I being really into Azita's set because there were traces of Steely Dan chording somewhere in there. Anyway, I knew of On Fillmore from Tim Barnes' Quakebasket label, but also knew of Darin and Glenn from the Jim O'Rourke Drag City records. I want to say that at that time, Tim had released their wooden box record and possibly the first non-box CD, which may have been split-released with Locust Records. (I could run upstairs to check, but I like not knowing everything. Also, the internet is a great place for wandering truths.)

Anyway, the On Fillmore set was wonderful! If I remember correctly, it was kit, vibraphone, and upright bass with no field recordings. Very rhythmic. Repetative. Shifting time signatures. Wonderful stuff. On Fillmore has since released a few more records, all wonderful, evolving, great sounding works. On the album, Extended Vacation, there is an Ives-ian sequence where a marching band crashes into the human birdcalls and dark vibes/bass. For that record, the duo played the Warhol Museum, and while I was out of town, we recorded an interview that is still online.  Later on, they also toured with Radiolab, providing sound for forty shows.

So, when I proposed The Reduction to the New Hazlett Theatre, it seemed like a good time to see if a collaboration was possible. As it turns out, it was! As with much of the show, I do not want to give much away, but here is a photo of preparations for the sound.

Darin has the ability to change his sound from project to project, but there are qualities that transcend the genre or the group. His playing is fully committed, and that commitment allows the music to really be something special.

Here are some of my favorite clips of a few of his projects and collaborations. For further listening, I would recommend Darin's solo album, St. Louis Shuffle, Jim O'Rourke's InsignificanceBrise-Glacé's When in Vanitas (sooo good!), Grand Ulena's Gateway to Dignity.

Loren MazzaCane Connors & Darin Gray live at Monroe County Public Library in Bloomington, Indiana on March 4, 2000. A CD of this concert was released as "This Past Spring" on Family Vineyard, May 24, 2001. Filmed by CATS (Community Access Television Services).

A beautiful section from the Radiolab piece by On Fillmore with Sarah Lipstate from Noveller.

I'm really into the new Tweedy record. There is a great consistency in the songwriting, the production is cool, and I really like the live shows. Here's one of the live shows.

Sergey Letov, Chris Corsano, Akira Sakata & Darin Gray Moscow, 25-10-11

Hope to see you on August 13th for the show!

waywardland by David Bernabo

I am thrilled to be part of Jil Stifel and Ben Sota's new work, WaywardLand.  The piece is an evening length dance work that will premiere as part of the New Hazlett Theater's CSA Program. Here is a bit of information.

A new work that searches out the intersections between, modern dance, contemporary circus and physical theater. We look for the very root of our species nature, finding entanglement, support and relationships as we meet, dance, fly, balance, and rock through this WaywardLand. by Jil Stifel and Benjamin Sota, with Anna Slowdanger Thompson, Taylor Slowdanger Knight, set be Blaine Siegel, sound by David Bernabo, costumes by Casey Lee Droege, and lighting by Scott Nelson.

Thursday, Feb 12 @ New Hazlett, 8pm (one night only!)

I have been very fortunate to work with all of these people before. Taylor and I co-curate the Lightlab Performance Series and have performed together in the majority of pieces that I have danced. Likewise, I have worked with Anna in a number of pieces - she was also part of the original MODULES crew. Jil gave me my first taste of dance when we danced a short duet in one of Gia Cacalano's pieces. Oh, Ben and I have never worked together! First time! Blaine and I have been a part of a number of things together, and I am excited to announce a duo art show in 2016 (that I will announce later). Casey has graciously involved me in a number of her awesome projects! and Scott and I worked together on Sprout Fund's Tenacity. Working with Scott is actually very exciting as he can maintain an incredibly high level of creativity and professionalism. I'm a bit envious of that professionalism. 

Anyway, this is all to say that you should check this out! Besides there being a number of things in this piece that don't exist in Pittsburgh dance, the piece is really quite wonderful - lots of surprises, subtlety, and some fun. 

This has actually been one of the most challenging music projects that I have undertaken in a while, but I'm happy to say that the music is feeling really good and there is new ground being covered. The music has grown to include three main strains: accordion music, drum groupings, and ambient or drone-based pieces. Years ago, when my grandfather passed away (1994), I inherited his accordion. It has made appearances here and there - Vale and Year's lost album, Greg Cislon is Truant, my score for Mark C. Thompson's Kimono, and  2007's Graphic Scores CD in duet with violaist Ben Harris. In Waywardland, it exists as a standalone piece called "The Momentary," which is one of my favorite recent pieces. I'm very happy with how it plays against the movement. It also exists as a drone and looped element. One haunting inspiration is Antony's score for Robert Wilson's The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, especially this piece:

There is much to love here, but what I gravitate toward the loop - it does not call much attention to itself. As you may know, I generally hate looping or, at least, looping pedals.

I won't ruin too many of the surprises, but I'm happy that an old composition is seeing the light of day. In the last month of my high school career, Eric Graf, Greg Cislon, and I started recording a record that was as they say "eclectic." It was also partially a plunderphonic record before I knew what that meant. There were heavy doses of Ornette Coleman, Luigi Nono, Stockhausen, Luc Ferrari, Pierre Boulez, Iannis Xenakis, Mark Dresser, Varese. It was a time where I had a lot of free time, audio galaxy provided a wealth of free and relatively obscure music, and allmusicguide was my, ahem, guide to "related artists." At the time, I was heavy into Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," but thanks to audio galaxy's fragmented downloading method, I only had the slower duet sections. (There was another piece labelled as "O Sacrum Convivium" that I had forever held as one of the most beautiful pieces, but I haven't actually been able to find who composed it and if that is the true title.) Anyway, I composed my own version of a Messiaen piece for violin and piano.  My classmate Muriel is on violin and I am on piano. 

Another collaborator: David Cherry created the trailer (below). Back in 2004, David ran a collective publishing organization called Incredibly Thin. Through Incredibly Thin, I met a number of folks, including Blaine. Anyway, small town Pittsburgh. Check out the trailer and hope to see you a week from Thursday!

One more: I was able to work with Kelly Miskis on some of the vocal bits for the score.