Visual Arts: Interpretations, August Wilson Center




December 17, 2016 – February 26, 2017 | August Wilson Center

Opening Reception | December 17 | 8 PM

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces Interpretations, a visual and performance art exhibit conceptualized by Joy-Marie Thompson with photographs by Rachel Neville. Interpretations will be on display at the August Wilson Center in the Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery from December 17, 2016 through February 26, 2017. An opening reception featuring an original performance by Joy-Marie Thompson and her dance partner, Demi Remick, will be held December 17 at 8:00 p.m.

From classical to modern, from jazz to musical theatre, photographs of Joy-Marie Thompson illuminate the dance choreography cannon and will celebrate the masters who have influenced her creative journey. The aim of Thompson’s revealing tribute is to celebrate the beauty and humanity of the African-American dance heritage and unite people of all races, ages and experiences. To bring her vision to life, Thompson partnered with her mother, Jill Thompson for costume design and creation, and New York based photographer, Rachel Neville. Neville’s images reach out and grab the attention of the viewer, taking them into a visual world where dance and imagery combine. The portfolio features the Dance Theatre of Harlem, 10 Hairy Legs Dance company, and Grishko LTD.

“All of the artist’s celebrated here created a unique and independent space for other black dancers. Preparing Interpretations provided an opportunity to not only honor important black artists, but also to discover more about the richness, beauty and pride of the African-American dance history of our people,” explains Thompson. The collaboration highlights key dance artists who not only influenced Thompson in their personal dance aesthetic, but inspired her through their will to create a dance style for black artists that was unique to the culture and stood apart from the style typical of earlier European ideals and aesthetics. Bill T. Jones, Josephine Baker, and Eartha Kitt are just a few of the artistic legacies and wide ranging genres surveyed in this new and vibrant take on African-American dance. Thompson encourages viewers to take it upon themselves to research the artists, find the original photograph, and learn more about their incredible influence.

Joy-Marie Thompson is a junior BFA dance major at Purchase College, State University of New York. She began dancing at the age of five and attended Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School from grades 7-12 as a dance major training in jazz, ballet, musical theatre, and modern dance styles. At Purchase College she has performed works by Jonathan Riedel, Aszure Barton, Kevin Wynn, and Kyle Abraham and Doug Varone. Along with many other ambitious aspirations, Joy-Marie hopes to join an acclaimed dance company in New York City after graduation.

Jill Thompson, mother of Joy-Marie Thompson, is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. After establishing an interior design career in Pittsburgh, she moved on to designing custom furniture, jewelry, and leather accessories. She formerly participated in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Art Festival as a featured artist.

Rachel Neville is a dance and movement photographer based in New York City. Once her dance career ended short following a sustained knee injury, Rachel moved onto to study photography, graduating from Hunter College in 2000. In 2008, she settled in NYC establishing herself as one of the top dance photographers in the area. 

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit

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