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Betting on ballet: Something different from Arts on the Allegheny

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Friday, July 18, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

Arts on the Allegheny gambled when it decided to bring ballet to Kittanning's Riverfront Park as part of its free series of performances. When you think of summer concerts in the park, you usually think rock ‘n' roll, country music, big bands — or just bands in general. You don't think of dancers in leotards and tutus.

But Verb Ballets, the troupe performing in the John P. Murtha Amphitheater tonight, is not your standard group of dancers. Arts on the Allegheny President Mary Ann Valasek calls them “avant garde” — which is a fancy way of saying that if you go expecting to see a traditional performance from “Swan Lake” or “The Nutcracker,” you'll be disappointed.

You're more likely to see the ballerina in this troupe pirouetting to the beat of a Benny Goodman song.

Verb Ballets also is unusual off stage in the way this company uses its talent. The group today reached out to Kittanning High School basketball players to teach them how to jump higher. And members visited an area senior center to show residents stretching exercises they can use to limber up.

This is not your average ballet troupe.

Arts on the Allegheny is betting the group will put on a show that's well above average — one that will surprise everyone who wouldn't know a jeté if it was thrown in front of them. It is a minor gamble to go and see if they were right.

So whether you're a rocker or prefer country twang, we urge you to support Arts on the Allegheny by showing up on the riverfront at 7 p.m. for something a little different.

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