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: A Doll of a Ballet

April 16, 2012

Photo: Rich Sofranko

After stretching its artistic haunches with forays into European dance theater (John Neumeier’s Streetcar Named Desire) and a strong mixed rep program of Brahms, Beethoven, Bach and Brahams (Mark Morris’ Maelstrom, Dwight Rhoden’s Chromatic and Dennis Nahat’s Brahms Quintet), Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre seemingly reigned in its sense of adventure with Coppelia, a balletic comedy in the traditional sense. But artistic director Terrence Orr decided to flex his muscles and shook up the production with a fresh approach and the company responded. Click on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for the full article. It would be great if PBT were to continue in that vein next season.

Photo: Rich Sofranko

Afterward everyone celebrated with an official season-ending cast party, En Pointe, at the Trust Arts Education Center’s Peirce Studio around the corner from the Benedum Center on Liberty Ave. Downstairs the performing space, a versatile black box, is always cool, enhanced by the building’s original stone foundation and exposed brick, even on hot summer days. Bordered by black velvet curtains with strings of white globes overhead, dancers and guests gathered for one last event on a season well spent. Tapas, Belgian waffles, cupcakes and mixed vodka drinks added to the the social atmosphere, charged with anticipation for the next season.

Principal dancer Christopher Budzynski (Franz) was with wife and lovely Swanhilda, Alexandra Kochis, and the amiable Stephen Hadala, his onstage nemesis as Dr. Coppelius. As it turned out Chris danced with a sore knee on both Friday and Sunday, helped by plenty of Ibuprophin, a bandage and the adrenalin that comes with the excitement of the performance. He still pulled off soaring double cabrioles and whipping turns without a hint of any problem.

On Stage: Prix-ty Terrific!

January 31, 2011

This week all eyes at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre are on two students, Aviana Adams, 15, and Anwen David, 16, who are competing at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne (pree  deh  la-ZAWN). This international Swiss competition and educational workshop was designed for pre-professional dancers ages 15 to 18.

Out of 205 candidates representing 31 countries, 82 dancers were selected to attend the 2011 festivities in Lausanne scheduled to run Feb. 1 through 6. There are eight female contestants from the U.S. and PBT is the only sponsor with more than one female participant.

The company gave the two dancers a send-off last Thursday, where they could showcase their talents at the PBT studios in front of family and friends. In his introduction, artistic director Terrence Orr called the Prix “the creme de la creme of all competitions. We’re so proud of the school and our students. They’ll be working with directors and coaches, who will see how much they learn and adapt.”

The students could choose one each from the Prix list of classical variations and contemporary solos. PBT school director Marjorie Grundvig explained the students’ ultimate selections.

Aviana picked the second variation from the Kingdom of the Shades’ pas de trois from in “La Bayadere,” which played up her impeccable lines. Anwen chose a “Coppelia” variation from the first act, which also showed off some of her acting skills to go along with a naturally exuberant technique.

According to Marjorie, Aviana’s contemporary variation, “Caliban,” was by Cathy Marston and involved a” lot of difficult floor work.” It can be performed by both the girls and the boys. Anwen picked “a slightly more playful one” called “Traces,” by the same choreographer.

During the course of the week, the two will take classes with the 15-16 year old age group. They will also be coached in their variations, and in the case of the contemporary solo, by Cathy Marston herself. A panel of judges will observe their progress.

All of the contestants will perform on Saturday and then the finalists will be announced. The finals will take place Sunday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. CET, which is 9 a.m. Pittsburgh time and will be streamed live.

Said Aviana, “Getting this far is amazing and I’m still in shock. Everything from now on is icing on the cake. Anwen looked forward to the future in noting, “Hopefully we’ll have a great time and learn a lot.”

That goes without saying…

Check the nifty Prix de Lausanne website, chock full of more information at Certain candidates will be spotlighted throughout the week on, which will be updated daily.

Prix de Lausanne Artistic Committee member and rector of the Palucca Schule Dresden Jason Beechey will tweet about the experience at

For the Prix scene through Aviana’s eyes, check her tweets at

More to come…

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