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Fall arts: Dances to fit the bill — new, classic, bold, refined

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
Camille A. Brown and Dancers
Camille A. Brown and Dancers
'Mozart in Motion' is the first Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre production.
'Mozart in Motion' is the first Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre production.

Dance fans and those who want to find out what the fuss is all about have numerous stylistic options in our region, even within the offerings of a single organization. The rich vocabulary of classical ballet, which includes technique both refined and bold, is experienced in works such as “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty,” works strengthened by the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Modern dance is even more varied in the dance itself, the sound worlds with which it is performed and the range of concepts being explored.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is enjoying a golden era under artistic director Terrence Orr. Its troupe of international quality professional dancers perform classical and modern works by great choreographers, often with live music performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra. The large enrollment at the ballet school provides an extra casting resource, especially for “The Nutcracker.” Performances are the Benedum Center, except as noted.

The ballet’s season begins with “Mozart in Motion,” with live orchestra, Oct. 26-28. The program includes George Balanchine’s new-classical “Divertimento No. 15,” as well as “Six Dances” and “Petit Mort” by Jiri Kylian.

Orr’s popular version of “The Nutcracker,” the story of a young woman’s magical Christmas Eve, sets the action in Pittsburgh, Nov. 30-Dec. 27.

A new production of Jorden Morris’ “The Great Gatsby,” Feb. 8-17, brings cinematic sets to the romantic and tragic story of love in the Roaring Twenties.

The ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem will continue their fruitful collaborations, March 15-24 at the Byham Theatre.

“Sleeping Beauty,” perhaps the greatest of classical ballets, returns with live orchestra, May 10-12.

Laurel Ballet in Greensburg will perform “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 8 and 9, with the Westmoreland Symphony, unlike Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s “Nutcracker” which uses a recording. Its second production of the season will pair “Carmen” with “Arabian Nights,” June 8.

Pittsburgh Dance Council, part of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, will present six touring internationally ranked ensembles, at the Byham Theater except as noted.

Deborah Coker Dance, Oct. 13, a Brazilian group, will bring “Cao sem Plumas” (Dog Without Feathers), which was inspired by a poem about social tensions coming to a head and featuring projections by acclaimed filmmaker Claudio Assis.

Yabin Wang’s “The Moon Opera,” Nov. 3, is part of the trust’s International Festival of Firsts. The Chinese choreographer, most widely known for her work in the film “House of Flying Daggers,” tells a dramatic modern story about the life of an artist.

Jessica Lang Dance, Jan. 26, will present five of her distinctive works, including her best-known work, “The Calling.”

The return of Paul Taylor Dance Company will present two of the iconic choreographer’s own works, plus one commissioned by Lila York. Taylor died Aug. 29.

Camille A. Brown and Dancers, March 9 and 10 at the August Wilson Center, will explore the cultural narrative of African-American identity in dance backed by blues, hip-hop, jazz and swing.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, April 13, brings a keen sense of humor to its parody in drag of classical ballet. Its last appearance in Pittsburgh in 2013 was sold out.

Many other Pittsburgh dance presentations are worth exploring, especially by Attack Theatre Corning Works, Bodiography, Texture Contemporary Ballet and at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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