Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Council mark 50 years
A pair of anniversaries will give dance a special aura during the 2019-20 season. Both Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Dance Council are celebrating their 50th birthdays this season with vibrant offerings.
The ballet stages classic ballet and contemporary dance performed by its roster of world-class dancers. Dance Council is a presenting organization which brings in top modern dance shows from around the world with an eye toward new kinds of experiences.
In addition, a handful of other excellent companies add their distinctive voices to the dance scene in Western Pennsylvania.
“Giselle” opens Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s season (Oct. 25-27), with Adolphe Adam’s score played live by the company’s orchestra. “Giselle” is a Romantic-era classic about a village girl deceived by a philandering prince. After her death, the prince is saved by Giselle’s spirit from the Wilis, the ghosts of women who died of broken hearts and who seek vengeance by dancing men to their death.
“The Nutcracker” with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Dec. 6-29) is America’s most popular ballet. The story of a teenage girl’s magical Christmas Eve is presented in artistic director Terrence Orr’s Pittsburgh based production. Orr will retire at the end of the season, having led the company to new heights during his 23 years at the helm.
“Beauty and the Beast” (Feb. 14-23) will be seen in Lew Christensen’s staging which is set to Tchaikovsky’s music.
MORE FALL ARTS
• Theater: ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Blithe Spirit,’ ‘A Few Good Men’ among season’s stage offerings
• Classical: Musical offerings run the gamut
• Concerts: Western Pa.’s fall concert lineup hits every genre
• Opera: Pittsburgh Opera’s season lineup spans centuries
Three contemporary choreographers with strong ties to Pittsburgh will be presented in “Here and Now” (March 20-29). Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham, a MacArthur “genius” award winner, is represented by “The Quiet Dance,” which is performed to jazz great Bill Evans’ take on a Leonard Bernstein song. Local choreographer Staycee Pearl will create a new ballet for this program. Dwight Rhoden’s ballet set to music by Paul Simon completes the program.
The season’s grand finale is “Balanchine and Tchaikovsky” (April 17-19), celebrating the genius of iconic choreographer George Balanchine building on the music of Tchaikovsky performed live by the PBT Orchestra.
Pittsburgh Dance Council opens its subscription series with Momix (Sept. 21), one of the most spectacularly successful and innovative modern dance companies. The program includes both iconic pieces from its repertoire and new works by its director Moses Pendleton.
ODC/Dance will perform “Path of Miracles” (Nov. 6-9) about Catholic pilgrimages across northern Spain, with the Mendelssohn Choir performing music by Joby Talbot which inspired the ballet.
Tap dance and jazz are united in the work of Sarah Reich (Jan. 16-18), which places tap rhythms as the leading voice in the musical ensemble.
The Cuban Malpaso Dance Company (Feb. 22) will present a mixed program, including “Tabula Rasa” by Ohad Naharin which was first performed by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1986.
Spanish choreographer Rocio Molina (March 25) offers a new take on Flamenco dance and music by blending traditional elements with avant-garde sensibility.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (May 5) was the first company brought to Pittsburgh by Dance Council 50 years ago and closes the season. Its repertoire will include one of its classics, “Revelations.”
The continued success of smaller local companies speaks to both their strong creative personalities and local enthusiasm for dance as an art form. Attack Theatre, Corning Works and Texture Contemporary Ballet have all built devoted audiences and are well worth experiencing.
Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.