Dance Beat: PBT/Chat, Dance Abroad

January 24, 2017
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Yoshiaki Nakano and Hannah Carter perform Sinfonietta. Photo: Martha Rial©

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Yoshiaki Nakano and Hannah Carter perform Sinfonietta. Photo: Martha Rial©

PBT at the Lake. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has announced that it will return to perform at Chautauqua Institution on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 8:15 p.m. This time, however, they will be paired with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and we all know that Pittsburghers love live music. Better yet, they will be performing in the freshly rebuilt Amphitheater, regarded by many as the heart of this quaint Victorian community, featuring new dressing rooms, up-to-date lighting, an orchestra pit and better sight lines for the audience. On the program will be selections from Coppelia and the Jiri Kylian signature work, Sinfonietta, which got a roaring ovation from the crowd in the 2015 season at Benedum Center. CI is offering tickets at $43 and a Saturday “Symphony” package at the Athenaeum Hotel overlooking the scenic lake. It will be part of a CI season that will also feature Ailey II (June 26 and 28), longtime resident company Charlotte Ballet (July 6, 11, 19 and Aug. 2)  and Irene Rodriguez Compaña, a Cuban group with a flamenco flair (Aug. 23). But there is much more to feed the body, mind and soul. Click on Chautauqua.

Attack Theatre's Michele de la Reza teaching a class in Taipei/

Attack Theatre’s Michele de la Reza teaching a class in Taipei

American Dance Abroad. Artists may have come across this organization, but those based in Pittsburgh should know that one of the two co-directors is Carolelinda Dickey, former executive director of the Pittsburgh Dance Council for 12 years. Right now ADA wants submissions for Pitchbook: Volume III to “pitch” your new work to global presenters. Click on Pitch for more information.

On Stage: Charlotte Ballet

July 12, 2014

Charlotte BalletNorth Carolina Dance Theater has made a rare switch to change its name to Charlotte Ballet, the largest city in the state of North Carolina. Right now the name may not be familiar to resident Chautauquans. But artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, the staff and the dancers by and large remain the same. They were on view recently at the grand old Amphitheater. Click on Charlotte for the article and photos in The Chautauquan Daily.

On Stage: Summertime With PBT

August 28, 2013

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre added an outdoor performance at Chautauqua Institution to its annual opener at Hartwood Acres, which you can read about in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The dancers looked happy to be back and the four new ones (adding two artists to the roster total) looked happy to be there.

So was I, as well as friend and colleague, ©Martha Rial, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, who also happens to love dance.  Enjoy her unique  perspective on the Chautauquan experience at a new Pittsburgh entertainment site called Entertainment Central Pittsburgh by clicking on the link.

On Stage: A Feminist Ballet at the Lake

August 19, 2013
Photo: Brian Smith

Photo: Brian Smith

Chautauqua Institution finished off its dance season with North Carolina Dance Theatre’s finale, which included the last in an impressive series of premieres by Sasha Janes, along with pieces by Mark Diamond and George Balanchine’s semi-wild Western Symphony.

So the professionals finished up on Saturday night, but the students still had to strut their stuff  for parents and friends at the Amphitheater on Sunday afternoon. Maris Battaglia, director of the School of Dance, always comes up with some delicious nuggets. In addition to her Dance For Six, which meant lovely preteen ballerinas with a poise beyond their years, she brought an equally lovely variation on Swan Lake and restaged Michael Vernon’s Susan B. Anthony.

Yes, you read it right, a feminist ballet for 20 young and impressionable ballerinas. The taller girls were the men, dressed in suits and fedoras, accompanied by shorter “spouses,” in long beige dresses with slumped shoulders. They were met by a confident young young woman in bright yellow (Celeste Borman) who inspired them to follow a similar path of independence.

It was met with rousing applause, probably led by their mothers.

Also on the program were Mark’s Water Music, Sasha Janes’ Tango Forte, some modern dance (Jon Lehrer), hip hop (Rachael Humphrey) and the ballet of the summer, the first movement of George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.

It was staged with the passion and verve that Patricia McBride always brought to her roles at New York City Ballet and the students, as always, greatly benefitted from it.

On Stage: Innovation at Chautauqua

August 5, 2013
Jamie Dee and Pete Walker in "Shelter." Photo: Christopher Record

Jamie Dee and Pete Walker in “Shelter.” Photo: Christopher Record

North Carolina Dance Theatre is creating its own signature with an array of in-house choreographers — Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes and Dwight Rhoden. Read about the Dance Innovations program by clicking on NCDT.

Dance Beat: The Marvelous Margaret

July 28, 2013

ATWOOD MARGARETIt’s a small world. While at Chautauqua to view North Carolina Dance Theatre, I met renowned Canadian author, the marvelous Margaret Atwood. Topped by a halo of gray curls, she is blessed with a radiant skin and a knowing clarity in her eyes.

No wonder she has won so many awards — the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the Prince of Asurias award for Literature and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for The Handmaid’s Tale, among them. And the last turned out to be a new discovery.

Her book, written in 1985, is a futuristic novel that has been called both science fiction and speculative fiction, where a totalitarian Christian theocracy overthrows the United States government and subjugates women.

Just a little research peaked my interest. The result: it seemed that Handmaid’s Tale still retains its relevance today. So, despite being a latecomer, I bought her book. As it turns out, Handmaid’s Tale is being made into a ballet. Canadian, of course. But former Paul Taylor dancer Lila York, considered one of handmaid_largethe most successful choreographic alumnae of the company, has pursued this ballet for eight years.

It will finally be completed Oct. 16-20 at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Manitoba.  And if that is ringing a bell, consider that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has produced two ballets by Jordan Morris, yes, of RWB (Peter Pan and Moulin Rouge – The Ballet).

It certainly is a small world and one that I will embrace. More on Margaret (and Handmaid’s Tale) later.

On Stage: Two For Dance

July 26, 2013
NCDT's Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker Photo: Jeff Cravotta

Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker Photo: Jeff Cravotta



North Carolina Dance Theatre presented its annual Evening of Pas de Deux at Chautauqua Institution, with some excitement. Click on Chautauqua Daily to read the article. CI is trying something new — a Romeo & Juliet Project, which will involve the symphony, opera program and theater in a full-length program that explores various interpretations of Shakespeare’s classic story. NCDT principals Anna Gerberich and Pete Walker will be among 150 artists in this first-ever Chautauqua collaboration. Click on the link below to see a sneak preview of their duet.

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