About my work
Over the past 14 years both my solo and ensemble work has reflected my interest and obsession to understand improvisation. I work to gain this knowledge through researching improvisation methodologies, looking at instant composition, choreography, and a stripped down approach to collaboration, and relationships between live music and dance. By stripping down, I am referring to the essential and basic elements of choreography and composition, such as generating movement material, placing material in space, timing and dynamics. The things most choreographers use when making dances, I use in real time rather than spending months preparing and fixing steps. The dancer, in this way of working, spends hours in the studio everyday tuning the mind and body to be able to choreograph at high speed, in the now moment. I am interested in showing these tools in action, at the moment of creation, in order to magnify real time in performance. I am interested in intuition in action, and most importantly, the direct interaction of the performer and the public, through the vehicle of improvised performance, in a state of being vulnerable and in the moment of choice.
My goal is to work with an approach to performance-composition that uses improvisation to magnify real-time. The dancer is able to open his/her senses and awareness, and be triggered musically, or by the public, or an outside unpredicted environmental happening. A cough, a door opening, a cell- phone interruption, that is not ignored in performance, but allowed into the process of making. Perhaps a child in the public laughs, and the performer directly responds in the way they choose to react to the child. This laughter could act as a trigger for the performer to pause, or go into action. Though they could choose not to react, and that would also be fine, the option is there, and the performer is placing their senses in the whole space, rather than following a pre-scripted choreography. As one begins to develop these skills, choices can also be less conscious, it just happens so quickly one does not really think about it any longer in a conscious way, but more from a place of being lead by the whole space.
As a veteran performer, and professionally trained dancer, I have acquired a strong aesthetic quality from ballet and modern dance technique. It is from here that I start my work. I use this embodied knowledge as a tool, rather than a static conclusion, or exhibition of one’s sheer ability to execute a step, or a dance phrase. This knowledge is the base upon which I can explore, research and take risks compositionally in performance. I want to expand from this base, and I am drawn to interdisciplinary work. I incorporate installation, lighting effects, film, live instrumentation and musical composition, text, and dance. The select spaces that I work in are set up as environments, and are created by installation, lighting, and often film.
I want to evoke the senses in creating a "feeling" and specific energy that both the performer and the public can experience and react to. The use of a set design to evoke imagery, either harsh and abrasive or delicate and subtle, is also key factor in my work. I want to be with, go through, and to carry the public in performance to a place that they feel through the senses. I want them to have had an experience that they can personally connect with. I want performers, as well as the public, to feel and reflect. Performances may entertain, but they are not meant to do this solely, but to provoke through the senses and emotions. Not by being overly dramatic, but in a way where audiences acknowledge how a performance stirs them. These reactions are what the work I present is about.
"The Gia T Presents work was visceral, thick, attentive. The intensity at the start of the performance was gripping and the dancers continued to deepen the thickness of the space, the interaction - like a dog that holds on to that thing in its mouth digs deeper grinds down; could not take my eyes away from the mystery of the questions they were asking."
Grisha Coleman, Associate Professor of Movement, Computation, and Digital Media
School of Arts, Media and Engineering
Arizona State University.
Gia T. has been dubbed Pittsburgh's "Improv Queen" by well known dance critic Jane Vranish
"Gia T. Cacalano is noted for her ability to design landscapes of improvisation, enhanced by an ability to set her dancers free." www.crosscurrents Jane Vranish 3-5-14
"The timing matched up spontaneously but artfully, which is the beauty of improvisation and Cacalano’s skill."
www.coalhill.com - Adrienne Tottino 3-23-15
“Gia Cacalano is not one who plays it safe. She has pursued the state of dance improvisation for years, often in private or small alternative spaces with little concern for huge audience numbers, and is one of a growing number of city artists looking within themselves.” April 3, 2012 by Jane Vranish / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette