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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 2014-15 season opens with 'Sleeping Beauty'

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 6:43 p.m.
Duane Rieder
Amanda Cochrane and Robert Moore in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'Beauty and the Beast'
Duane Rieder
Alexandra Kochis in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'La Bayadere'
Duane Rieder
Julia Erickson in 'PBT at the Byham'
Duane Rieder
Gabrielle Thurlow and Nurlan Abougaliev will dance in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's production of 'The Sleeping Beauty'

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 45th season will feature five productions, ranging from classical ballet to premieres and revivals of contemporary repertoire. Two will feature live music by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra.

The season opens Oct. 24 to 26 with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's “The Sleeping Beauty.”

“Everybody loves ‘Sleeping Beauty,'” says artistic director Terrence Orr. “For me, it is one of the three major Tchaikovsky scores. He really monopolizes the major ballets of the past. It will be just phenomenal to have our own Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra play, and Charles (Barker, the company music director) is always a treat.”

More than 170 dancers will perform in Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 5 to 28. Orr's staging sets the story of a young woman's magical Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh, with many local iconic images, from the old Kauffman's clock to a Mt. Washington scene and a touch of Kennywood.

The company will present the local premiere of Lew Christensen's “Beauty and the Beast,” Feb. 6 to 15, 2015. Christensen was a student of George Balanchine. In 1948, Christensen joined two of his brothers at the San Francisco Ballet, where he was director from 1952 to 1984.

“Lew Christensen was my first artistic director at San Francisco Ballet when I was growing up,” Orr says. “I wasn't in the original production (of ‘Beauty and the Beast') but I was in later ones. It has a great score that he put together from different things, such as orchestral suites, which were not composed for ballet but work brilliantly for it. The set and costumes are just magnificent. This is a mammoth undertaking because it hasn't been put together in a long time.”

The ballet will return to the Byham Theater, Downtown, March 19 to 22, 2015, for a triple bill. It will include Dwight Rhoden's “Seventh Heaven,” which is set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. Rhoden describes it as having “classical vocabulary with a contemporary torso.”

The season will conclude with “La Bayadere,” April 17 to 19, 2015, with music by Ludwig Minkus, performed by Barker and the orchestra. Set in imperial India, the ballet tells the story of a love triangle with unearthly implications for a temple dancer and her lover.

“I've wanted to stage ‘La Bayadere' for a long time,” Orr says. “It is one of the early major works of ballet, up there with ‘Swan Lake,' ‘Giselle' and ‘The Sleeping Beauty.' It is a very difficult ballet to do technically, very demanding for the entire organization.”

Performances will be at the Benedum Center, Downtown, except as noted. Subscriptions are $69 to $490. Single tickets, $27 to $102, go on sale Sept. 2.

Details:412-454-9107 or www.pbt.org

Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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