Dance Beat: KST, PBT, slowdanger

In the News. Yes, that’s been the case for the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Two more deserved grants have come its way: The Pittsburgh Foundation will support the organizations Tenth Anniversary KST Presents programming, allowing for a year-long celebration of artists who challenge our perceptions, something that KST does so well. In addition, the Allegheny Regional Asset District has given KST $50,000 as a capital improvement grant to repair structural concerns in the over 100-year building. As executive director Janera Solomon puts it, “After a decade of living our mission of breaking down barriers, fostering inclusion and supporting diversity, we have discovered that there is an art to being unique, and we are extremely appreciative that some of the region’s foundations feel that we are distinct as well.” And speaking of janera, she has been named a 2018 Woman of Influence by the Pittsburgh Business Times. AND her organization will play host to the 2018 National Performance Visual Artists Network’s Annual Conference, a signal of KST’s increasing nation-wide importance.

Changes. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has announced promotions and exits, which will allow for more movement in the company than it has had in a long time. The big news is that 17-year principal dancer Julia Erickson, who could be considered the face of the company, will end her career in October following the season opener, where she will perform George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, originally designed for Balanchine muse Suzanne Farrell. But soloist Alexandre Silva, who has been at PBT for 12 years and is considered a consummate actor and partner who will truly be missed, will also retire following the May performance. Newly-appointed soloists will be bounding phenom Masahiro Haneji, the long-awaited appointment of English stylist William Moore and the pert, detail-oriented JoAnna Schmidt. And corps dancers Olivia Kelly and Daniela Moya will also be leaving at season’s end, completing the group’s biggest changes in several years.

Fast Rising. Anna Thompson and Taylor Knight, also known as slowdanger, not only are Dance Magazine’s 2018 25 to Watch, but have been named emerging artists at Springboard Danse Montréal, a prestigious festival where they will spend three weeks choreographing and rubbing elbows with the likes of Ohad Naharin (Batsheva), Crystal Pite (Kidd Pivot), Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk) and so much more.

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