Dance Beat: KST, PBT, slowdanger

March 15, 2018

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.


Dance Beat: PBT Honors

January 23, 2014
Janet Groom, Terrence Orr, Nicholas Petrov and Patricia Wilde.

Janet Groom, Terrence Orr, Nicholas Petrov and Patricia Wilde.

DRESSING UP FOR JANET. She’s been one of the pillars of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre over the past 40 years. And most certainly, costumier Janet Groom has been one of the reasons behind PBT’s success. Having seen other regional companies and some of the costumes that have been imported for various productions, I can easily say that Janet has been a hidden treasure. Mostly, that is. She often views performances, sometimes in a handmade Groom original that picks up on the theme of the evening’s ballet. PBT honored her at Perlè, one of Pittsburgh’s newest and coolest venues, a versatile contemporary space in Market Square. There Janet was in the spotlight, honored by board member Carolyn Byham and current artistic director Terrence Orr. Also in attendance were founding and first artistic director Nicolas Petrov and the always elegant artistic director Patricia Wilde, amid a fine “turn out” by board and company members. As a bonus, several of Janet’s exquisite costumes adorned the walls, so that we could get an up close and personal look at her remarkable attention for detail.

KUDOS TO PATRICIA. Speaking of Patricia Wilde, she was recently honored by Dance Magazine, putting her in some stratospheric company, including the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch.(Click on  DM for a complete list.) “Oh, I thought was long forgotten,” she said when we talked at the PBT company studios. But when she was contacted for a Dance Magazine article on batterie — she was known for her sparkling footwork — her name resurfaced for editor Wendy Perron. When all was said and done, Patricia was noted as a real triple-threat. She moved from a hard-working principal at New York City Ballet (she once attended a rehearsal on the day of her wedding) to a ballet mistress and globe-trotting teacher to a 15-year stint as PBT artistic director. These days she still can be seen at rehearsals and performances and is still in demand as a teacher. Pittsburgh is truly lucky.

YOSHIAKI NAKANOMORE FOR YOSHIAKI. Newly-appointed PBT soloist Yoshiaki Nakano broke through as a winner of the Beijing International Ballet Competition this past summer. Now he has capped that by being named to Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2014. Congrats!

SOPHIE. And last but not least, PBT student Sophie Sea Silnicki,16, will be participating in Switzerland’s Prix de Lausanne, one of the major ballet competitions in the world. Follow her journey beginning January 27 by clicking on Sophie.


On Stage: A Fitting Finale at The Pillow

August 25, 2013

AWCDE PILLOWAugust Wilson Center Dance Ensemble is no more. Officially.

Greer Reed’s brainchild, which blazed like a comet across the Pittsburgh sky to become one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2012, had its last official performance at the venerable Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts on Saturday. (And it looks like there was a reunion going on, with many of the original dancers weighing in…)

But Greer is striking out on her own, renaming the group Reed Dance (probably a mistake on the part of the August Wilson Center) and carrying on. She is currently forming a board and attending to all the nitty gritty details that go along with shouldering your own dance company.

While we wait for those details to emerge (and hoping the remarkably fine repertoire travels with her), Greer sent some photos from AWCDE’s appearance in the Inside/Out portion of the Festival, located on a lovely stage with a forest backdrop.

She messaged, “We are here @ The Pillow and there are no words, just truly humbled.” The Pillow’s Alyssa Mayfield commented on Facebook, “It was great seeing you all perform yesterday!! Stunning job…”

 

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Dance Beat: CC, 25, Maddy, Wexford, Guiding Star

January 12, 2013

THANK YOU! CrossCurrents runs on WordPress, which just released an annual report to its bloggers. CrossCurrents logged 100,000 visits this past year and has passed the quarter of a million mark since it first began mid-2010. Again, thanks for your support!

2013_01_0FOUR OF 25. I have often said that Pittsburgh is a treasure trove of dance talent, but was still surprised that Dance Magazine had not less than four Pittsburgh area talents, both born and current, on its 2013 list of 25 to Watch. McKeesport native Frances Chiaverini has been scoring some good press at her latest gig with Benjamin Millipied’s L.A. Dance Project, which led to her selection as cover girl on this edition (along with successful turns at Morphoses and Karol Armitage). But inside you will find Emily Kikta, alumnus of Thomas Studio for the Performing Arts in Bridgeville and now at New York City Ballet.  And if you don’t want to travel, it will be easy to see Texture Contemporary Ballet’s Alan Obuzor and recently-appointed Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloist Amanda Cochrane. Congratulations!

HIGH ON PILS. kNOTDance’s Maddy Landi bid auf wiedersehen to Pittsburgh when he joined Pilobolus. Now he is in the midst of a German tour performing in the group’s Shadowland for the next few months.

Wexford Dance Academy

Wexford Dance Academy

JINGLES. Wexford Dance Academy’s Elizabeth Mackin Karas once again unfolded her annual holiday treat at Shady Side Academy in December. It included a tap variation on the Rockettes’ soldier dance, Liz’ own brand of Nutcracker divertissements and the loveliest of finales, where the complete cast, all dressed in the purest white and carrying candles, lifted the spirits.

INDIAN JOURNEY. Guiding Star Dance Foundation’s Varun Mahajan is looking for male and female dancers to perform in an all-English production of Arranged Marriage at the Charity Randall Theater in Oakland in April. Practices will be held at the Guiding Star facility in Carnegie every Thursday, beginning this month where selected dancers will be trained in semi-classical, Bollywood and folk. Final rehearsals and performances will run from Apr. 22-28, 2013. For more information, go to www.gsdfonline.org, call 412-877-7502 or emiail info@gsdfonline.org.


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