Dance faculty member Michele Dunleavy focuses on 'Steel Valley Rhythms'

Stephanie Swindle
August 23, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Michele Dunleavy, associate professor of theater and Borland Project Space resident, will give a lecture, “From Hot Metal to Cool Art: A History of the Carrie Furnace in Two Parts,” with Ron Baraff, Rivers of Steel Arts director of archives, and Chris McGinnis, art director, from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, in the Borland Project Space (125 Borland) in conjunction with her residency project, "Steel Valley Rhythms."

The project focuses on the significance of the historic Carrie Blast Furnaces, which produced iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978 and are the only nonoperative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh District to remain standing. The furnaces, located on the banks of the Monongahela River just outside Pittsburgh, are a visible reminder of the region’s legacy as the dominant force in the steel industry for over 100 years. As the Steel City enjoys yet another celebrated renaissance, sites like the Carrie Furnace exist as cultural reservoirs, preserving the past in hot metal, brick, and iron ore.

Created in partnership with Rivers of Steel Arts (RoSA), Steel Valley Rhythms aims to create a performance that connects the audience to their environment and to the region’s history. 

“I find myself drawn to the many textures and surfaces located throughout the site, and the potential they hold for creating sounds and rhythms. Though video and live performance, Steel Valley Rhythms will transform objects from the Carrie site along with archival materials to create a work that is both old and new, and that challenges perceived boundaries between labor and art,” explained Dunleavy.

Other upcoming events in conjunction with Dunleavy’s project in the Borland Project Spaceinclude:

5 to 6:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29: Percussive dance workshop with Michele Dunleavy; no previous experience required. Participants should bring/wear hard-soled shoes and wear clothes for movement.

5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1: Open rehearsal of the work in-progress.

5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept: 7: Video screening of a performance at the Festival of Combustion at Carrie Furnace, Pittsburgh.

4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13: Closing reception for Steel Valley Rhythms.

  • Michele Dunleavy silhouette

    Michele Dunleavy, ADRI embedded researcher and associate professor of theatre, Penn State.

    IMAGE: Michele Dunleavy
Last Updated August 24, 2016