Dance Beat: New Security Regulations

October 1, 2018

FYI Arts Lovers: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will be instituting new security measures in the near future. Below are the details from the Trust:

 After a thorough benchmarking and vetting process against numerous performing arts venues across the country, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is launching enhanced guest entry practices for the Byham Theater, the August Wilson Center, and Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. These practices are designed with the convenience of our guests in mind to ensure a safe environment in which outstanding performances in the arts can be enjoyed by all.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust always seeks to meet national best practices regarding the safety of our guests. These new protection measures will now require persons entering or reentering our largest performing arts venues to be screened by our onsite security personnel. Our staff will utilize equipment and practices similar to those in place at airports, concerts or sporting events. The new screening process will include a walk through metal detectors and bag inspections. Not only are more and more performing arts venues switching to similar practices, but venue third-party users and renters are also now requiring theater operators to implement these new security measures to better protect their audiences.

These practices will begin to roll out separately at each theater:

  • Byham Theater: October 13th, 2018 during Deborah Colker Dance: Cão sem Plumas
  • August Wilson Center: October 20th, 2018 during Soul Sessions Faith Evans
  • Benedum Center for the Performing Arts: November 16th, 2018 during Billy Gardell

“We’re always excited about providing amazing experiences and performances in the arts, while at the same time, increasing our ability to reassure our guests they are well protected while with us,” Kevin C. Wilkes, Chief Security Officer of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust stated. “We’ve made sure our new systems utilize the most current and effective screening technology without interfering with the arts experience.”

While these new procedures were designed with audience convenience in mind, it is highly recommended that guests arrive to these venues up to 45 minutes earlier than they have in the past, to ensure a timely entry into the venue for the start of the performance. To entice guests to take advantage of this early entry into the theater, the affected venues will offer discounted drinks and concessions during a “Happy Half Hour” prior to each show.

 


Dance Beat: Attack Theatre, Benedum Center

December 2, 2017

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Gala. It’s called En Pointe, one of Pittsburgh’s top parties. This year’s theme at the Westin Hotel was West Side Story Suite, a salute to the upcoming Jerome Robbins triple bill later in the season. Gala goers saw excerpts from the real West Side Story Suite that will anchor the program, Scherzo and Somewhere. Before that, PBT principals offered duets, first Alexandra Kochis and Luca Sbrizzi in another Robbins’ piece, the lovely In the Night. (By the way, PBT has announced the third ballet on the May program, Fancy Free, about three soldiers on leave in New York that  later became a hit Broadway musical and a movie starring Gene Kelly.) Swan Lake was the other inspiration, featuring flowing lines from Hannah Carter and Alejandro Diaz in the White Swan Pas de Deux and the bravura elements of the Black Swan Pas de Deux from Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano.

Attack-ing Braddock. Attack Theater’s Some Assembly Required has been a true delight to watch over more than ten years. The company provides an interactive learning experience for new audiences and true insight into the improvisatory process for the many fans who follow them. After reviewing a performance at Contemporary Craft, I drove to Braddock, a historic steel mill city showing signs of regrowth along its vital Main Street, to see the company at the gallery, right next to the ‘s restaurant, with a view of the steel mill at work. The subject here was the material and cultural legacy depicted by artist Liz Ensz, most dynamically in sculpture that resembled strip mining. By the way, that was the last time we’ll see company member Anthony Williams for a while. He’s off to pursue his own projects in Europe, but will eventually swing back to the ‘Burgh.


Benedum Center. The venerable performing arts facility celebrated its 30th anniversary this fall, an achievement that was an important marker of the rise in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District out of the ashes of a red light district. During that time, it has played host to thousands of people, enhancing their lives with top-notch programming, and providing a venue to an ever-adventurous  group of local performing arts organizations. It was a group of performances that signaled its arrival and I was there for the world-renowned Pilobolus and a world premiere of Zoology with a score by Pittsburgh composer David Stock. Pittsburgh showed its support of dance here, a community that has continued to grow and prosper and something that I have been privileged to watch along the way. It is part of a quartet of theaters, three of them renovations (Heinz Hall and Byham Theater in addition, plus the contemporary Public Theater) that I think are the best in America. Thanks to the Cultural Trust!


On Stage: Real Royalty

December 2, 2014

Mr

The Royal Ballet of Cambodia has a remarkable story behind it.

But seeing it unfold on the stage of the Byham Theater was a manifestation of its purpose in its country.

Lavishly beautiful and serene, even when the all-female cast of dancers were performing as men, we caught a glimpse into the national character of Cambodia.

Certainly the Cambodians’ style bore a common resemblance to other Asian countries, particularly India and Thailand, with a certain weightiness to the legs and ornate arms weaving a series of pictures above.

This company was suitably titled ballet because there was an organic effortlessness about it, an aristocratic style born of its courtly days. These were spiritual peacemakers on stage, best exemplified by the angels at the end.

Underneath that effortlessness, though, was an impeccable control, with balletic attitudes, but with the knee pointed to the floor and the back foot almost touching the body. They held these poses in slow, breathtaking promenades.

Most notable were the hands, though it is said that they practice stretching them until the back of their hands can touch the wrists.

With that kind of flexibility available, they can hold their hands along a backward curve, not pushing, but in a celestial arch.

Heavenly.

 

 


On Stage: PPU’s Dance Explosion

May 17, 2014
Nick Fearon and Vanessa Guinto in "Wolfgang." Photo: Jeff Swensen

Nick Fearon and Vanessa Guinto in “Wolfgang.” Photo: Jeff Swensen

Conservatory Dance Company literally filled the Byham Theater stage with dance during its annual visit, but in four vastly different ways.

The first was George Balanchine’s Serenade (1934) one of the most memorable ballets in the classical repertory and full of ever-changing tidal patterns that never fail to entice, even after multiple viewings.It was a remarkably cohesive performance, especially give that the student cast was probably not schooled exclusively in the Balanchine technique.

Still, they were confidently led by Kathryn Van Yahres, Cassidy Burk and Alyssa Blad, surprisingly so when partnered by Alex Hathaway and Justus Whitfield. The two young men, in particular, exemplified the wonderful attention to detail used by stager Joysanne Sidimis — how to walk like the Elegy Boy or how to place the arms with authority.

Martha Graham’s Steps in the Street (from CHRONICLE) came from the same time period (1936). The two works couldn’t be more different, one an abstract romantic ballet, the other evoking images of war. Both, however, were connected by the genius of their creators and remained timeless.

They also set a high standard for the rest of the program.

David Parsons has contributed several worthy pieces to the Point Park University dance department (The Envelope, Nuevo). He is an offshoot of Paul Taylor’s athleticism, but without the intellectual purpose behind it.

So the beginning of Wolfgang was unfocused and heavy-handed. Part of that had to do with the sophisticated delicacy of Mozart’s music, a labarinthian task for any choreographer. By the third movement, however, he had settled on a wry humor and lightly etched dance that was more suitable.The students, notwithstanding, gave it their all throughout.

Dwight Rhoden put the exclamation point on the evening with Mercy. There are two ways that a Rhoden piece can come across, given his penchant for a form of choreographic multi-tasking — multiple moves per beat — as either relentless or mesmerizing. With the passion of PPU’s Mercy cast, it was the latter on opening night, despite the fact that the overall intent wasn’t particularly clear, what with a disparate accompaniment from Bach and The Hallelujah Chorus to Indian music driving the dance.

Even so, Will Geoghegan had the solo role of his years of Point Park and the cast certainly followed suit.


%d bloggers like this: