Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Unveils Its 2021-2022 Season

After more than a year since the curtain came down abruptly on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) 50th Anniversary Season, PBT Artistic Director Susan Jaffe is proud to announce a 2021-2022 Season that brings ballet back to the Benedum Center and August Wilson African American Cultural Center. PBT’s triumphant return to the theater ignites innovative voices, revisits beloved classical ballets and brings fan favorites to life on stage. This will be the first complete theater season planned by Jaffe, who took the helm as the company’s seventh artistic director in June 2020. 

“I’m so happy to be able to bring ballet safely back to the theater with a season full of programs I’m truly excited about,” Jaffe said. “This season celebrates the dynamic work of courageous, passionate and creative choreographers, and shows the full depth and breadth of the art form.”

“PBT’s ‘Here + Now’ program celebrates women who have contributed important work to our art form. A full program choreographed by women is still uncommon, and I’m thrilled to bring their talent, passion and artistry to Pittsburgh.”

With the help of MSA Safety, PBT’s 2021-2022 Season safety sponsor, patrons will be invited back to the theater with increased safety measures including masking, social distancing, a guest pledge and a pledge from the venues to maintain a safe and comfortable environment. For more information on safety measures in the theater, visit https://trustarts.org/pct_home/pages/know-before-you-go

Single tickets start at $28 and will be available this September at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666. Subscription packages start at $81 at www.pbt.org or 412-454-9107 and offer 20 percent savings over single tickets and a variety of subscriber benefits. 

PBT’s 2021-2022 Season

Season Premiere with the PBT Orchestra
October 22-24, 2021 | Benedum Center
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre makes its triumphant return to the Benedum Center with a Season Premiere of four distinct works that capture the essence and evolution of the art form. Ballet’s innovative future is exemplified by Helen Pickett’s vivacious Petal and a world premiere work by Jennifer Archibald. Experience Balanchine’s glittering Diamonds, an embodiment of the precision and grace of the classical tradition set to the music of Tchaikovsky, and Victor Gsovsky’s exacting Grand Pas Classique.

The Nutcracker
December 10-29, 2021 | Benedum Center
Choreography: Terrence S. Orr | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

Snow settles on the Steel City as a wonderful adventure begins in PBT’s The Nutcracker. Join Marie, her Nutcracker prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy on a journey into the Land of Enchantment. Five fanciful scenes, over 150 unique costumes and Tchaikovsky’s enduring score make “The Nutcracker” a can’t-miss holiday tradition. 

The Nutcracker is sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Giant Eagle and Clearview Federal Credit Union. 

Alice in Wonderland
February 11-13, 2022 | Benedum Center
Choreography: Derek Deane | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky, additional music by Carl Davis

Step into a surreal world of outlandish illusion, dreamlike scenery and your favorite Lewis Carroll characters in Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland. A whimsical medley of Tchaikovsky’s music provides the perfect backdrop to the madness of deranged tea parties, unhinged games of croquet and extraordinary dance. Don’t miss the madcap ballet the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls an “old-fashioned romp through [the] British classic, ripe with an over-the-top music hall flavor.”

Here + Now
March 24-27, 2022 | August Wilson African American Cultural Center
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory

PBT’s revamped Here + Now brings the cutting-edge voices in dance to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. See the world premieres of SKIN + saltwater, created by local choreographer and PBT Artist in Residence Staycee R. Pearl, sponsored by Arts, Equity, & Education Fund, and a new work by Aszure Barton, an internationally acclaimed choreographer who has been described as an innovator of form. Revisit the excitement of a new trio by award-winning choreographer Helen Pickett – first seen during PBT’s annual performance at Hartwood Acres – and experience the depth of Anabelle Lopez Ochoa’s intimate La Pluie and Gemma Bond’s expressive Depuis le Jour.

Swan Lake with the PBT Orchestra 
May 6-15, 2022 | Benedum Center
Original Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov | Staged By: Susan Jaffe 
Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

Classical precision, superb storytelling and Tchaikovsky’s seminal score collide to create one of ballet’s most iconic works of art. The beautiful Odette, cursed to live as a swan, meets the prince who could break the spell – but the wicked Von Rothbart has plans of his own. Artistic Director Susan Jaffe’s own acclaimed history culminates in a new restaging of Swan Lake.

Four Dancers Awarded Apprenticeships to Join Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) Artistic Director Susan Jaffe has awarded paid apprenticeship positions to four young dancers as part of PBT’s new apprenticeship program for the upcoming 2021-2022 Season. Elizabeth Devanney, Sujanya Dhillon, Madeline Gradle and Jacob Patrick Miller will receive access to academic programs through university partnerships along with performance opportunities with the PBT company. Apprenticeship positions have been made possible through a generous gift from Hans and Leslie Fleischner

“We received hundreds of applications from young dancers around the country,” Jaffe said, “and I truly believe these four have exceptional talent. I’m thrilled to have them join our team.”

Devanney, Dhillon and Miller were chosen from among virtual applications. Gradle is a student in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s (PBT School) graduate program.

In addition to attending company class and rehearsals with PBT, apprentices will be able to continue their academic education through partnerships with Seton Hill University, Community College of Allegheny County and Chatham University. Apprentices will be offered the opportunity to take courses toward certifications, like entrepreneurship and exercise science, that can be applied to a degree. 

Apprentices will start their positions with PBT in the 2021-2022 Season. A fifth apprentice will be chosen from among PBT School’s summer program students. 

About the Apprentices

Elizabeth Devanney

Liz Devanney, of Bel Air, Maryland, began her training with Dance Conservatory of Maryland and continued with University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA.) After graduating from high school in 2019, she was invited to join the professional division at Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB). She has attended summer programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Boston Ballet SDP, School of American Ballet, and Next Generation Ballet. In 2020, she was selected for the Royal Danish Ballet – PNB Exchange Program and was one of 25 young dancers awarded a scholarship from the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet to support her continued training. Her repertoire includes Kent Stowell’s Cinderella, Ethan Steifel’s The Nutcracker, Susan Jaffe’s Carmina Terra, Helen Pickett’s Petal, Kingdom of the Shade’s from Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadére and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Concerto Barocco and Serenade.

Sujanya Dhillon

Sujanya Dhillon, from Vancouver, Canada, has trained with Goh Ballet Academy, Miami City Ballet School and San Francisco Ballet School and has attended summer programs at all three. She received First Place Scholarships from Coastal Capital Savings and Affinity Dance in 2017, was awarded the Shakti Award for Artistic Achievement in 2019, and received the British Columbia Arts Council Grant in both 2018 and 2020. She also received a Young Artists Relief Fund grant from The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet in 2020, created to support artists during the times of COVID-19. Her repertoire includes excerpts from La Bayadére, Don Quixote and George Balanchine’s Coppélia, as well as Goh Ballet Academy’s Four Seasons, Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker. 

 

Madeline Gradle

Madeline Gradle, of Falls Church, Virginia, joins Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from the PBT School Graduate Program. She received early dance training with Arlington Center for Dance and The Washington School of Ballet, and attended summer programs with American Ballet Theatre: New York, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell. Madeline danced as an apprentice with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet for four years, expanding her repertoire with George Balanchine’s Chaconne, Stars and Stripes, Tzigane, and Walpurgisnacht, among others. She has performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in productions of George Balanchine’s Rubies, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, and Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker. Additionally, Madeline enjoys teaching in the PBT School’s Children and Community Divisions. 

 

Jacob Patrick Miller

Jacob Miller began his ballet training at Northeast Dance Center in Lawrence,Massachusetts. He left home to continue his training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNSCA) in 2016, where he was awarded the Gillian Murphy Scholarship. After receiving his high school diploma in dance, Miller stayed at UNCSA for college and is currently working toward his BFA in Dance Performance. While at school, Miller worked with many renowned choreographers, such as Goyo Montero, Aszure Barton and Susan Jaffe. He has also performed principal roles in classical and neoclassical ballets, such as Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. Miller is thrilled to join Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as an apprentice after graduation!

The Profound Impact of a PBT School Scholarship

Meet Kaila Lewis!

If you’ve followed Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School on social media over the past year, you’ve witnessed the evolution of dance instruction from studios to screens and back again. Here PBT School’s Children’s Division Coordinator Kaila Lewis talks about her history at PBT and what it’s been like to teach ballet fundamentals virtually.

Q: What ignited your passion for ballet? 

A: My parents enrolled me in ballet classes when I was two years old, because I was not old enough for preschool at the time. I immediately fell in love with it and have fond memories of performing from a young age. 

Q: Even with a mask on, your face is a familiar one at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. How has your journey unfolded here? 

A: I’ve actually been involved with PBT School for almost 23 years, and it all started because of a scholarship. I began as a student in 1998 and started assisting younger classes while training in the Grad program. Every year, I gained more experience which led to more responsibilities. I’ve been a full-time faculty member since 2017. 

Q: What do you teach now?

A: I teach the majority of the Children’s Division classes from Grown-Up and Me through our Pre-Ballet 6 and Ballet Foundations classes. I also teach the Preparatory level and Levels 1, 2 and 3 in the Student Division.  

Q: You must love your job. What’s your favorite part?

A: My favorite part of teaching ballet, especially to the younger dancers is getting to create the magic. Ballet can be so magical, and the early years are so important to be able to put the love for the art form in motion.

Q: This time last year, the faculty and staff at PBT School were faced with major challenges. What was that like?

A:  I started with making videos for all of the levels in March 2020, and by April we started Zoom classes. It was so refreshing to get to see my students’ faces. I think that during an uncertain time, keeping up with their ballet training gave the students a sense of normalcy as well as a movement and creative outlet. It certainly is not easy but I am proud of how the school has kept going and how the students have remained committed.

Q: It must have been so nice to see your students, but that comes at a cost that many can’t afford, especially during times like this. Gratefully, PBT offers donor-funded scholarships to students in Levels 6 and above so that they can continue to pursue their dreams. Why would you encourage someone to contribute to scholarships?

A: Ballet promotes structure, discipline and passion. And while not all of my students will have the same path as me, I believe that it sets children up for success in all areas. It is usually evident during their school years because of how they learn to manage their time between school and ballet. They also tend to do well in school because they have been trained to work hard, accept constructive criticism and be attentive. I think these skills carry with them into college and even into their future careers. From training to performance opportunities, PBT can make a significant impact on a young dancer’s life. 


Last season, PBT was able to offer scholarships to 174 students with demonstrated need. Can our families count on your support so that our students are able to continue exploring their talent this year and for years to come?


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Announcing the Cast of PBT’s Fireside Nutcracker!

This year, the magic of PBT’s The Nutcracker is coming to you streaming for the first time ever! See Marie, the Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy and all your favorite Nutcracker characters like never before.

Meet the Cast

Diana Yohe & Joseph Parr as Marie and the Nephew/Nutcracker
Gabrielle Thurlow & William Moore as the Snow Queen and Snow King
Jessica McCann & Yoshiaki Nakano as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier

See complete casting here!

Register to watch PBT’s Fireside Nutcracker at no cost from Dec.17-31 and take a peek behind the scenes of the production with our photo gallery!

Register Now

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Announces Changes to Remainder of 2020-2021 Season

In response to ongoing public health guidance and regulations on indoor assembly, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) will not return to the theater for the remainder of its 2020-2021 Season. Performances impacted by this decision include performances of “Cinderella” with the PBT Orchestra (Feb. 12-14, 2021), BNY Mellon presents “Here + Now” (April 8-11, 2021), “Modern Masters (April 15-18, 2021) and “Alice in Wonderland” (May 7-16, 2021).  

Building on the success of PBT’s inaugural Open Air Series performances in September, the company will present an Open Air Series in Spring 2021 for subscribers and the public. Programming for the spring Open Air Series will include excerpts from “The Sleeping Beauty,” “La Bayadère,” “Le Corsaire” and “Don Quixote,” as well as works choreographed by Helen Pickett, Gina Patterson, Annabelle Ochoa Lopez, Sasha Janes and PBT Artistic Director Susan Jaffe. Exact dates and location are still to be announced. Tickets will be put on sale this spring. 

“Thanks to generous funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust and the Jack Buncher Foundation,” PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris said, “PBT successfully piloted the Open Air Series in early September. This new series, structured around a mobile performing arts venue, revived in-person performances and brought the community together to celebrate the arts. PBT partnered with other arts and culture organizations in Pittsburgh to connect with our audiences in new and unique ways. The Open Air Series will reemerge this spring as a festival with more performances and opportunities to experience the arts outdoors.

Ticket Information & FAQ

Subscribers and ticket holders will receive an email from the PBT patron services team outlining several options for their tickets, including the option to retain their ticket money on account to use for Open Air performances or other PBT events in the future. Ticket holders and subscribers may also donate the cost of their tickets to PBT’s Keep Us Dancing appeal or request a refund. 

For frequently asked questions regarding ticket options and subscriptions, click here.

“Fireside Nutcracker” & Upcoming Events

PBT will premier a virtual adaptation of its annual holiday tradition, “The Nutcracker,” on Dec. 17, 2020. “Fireside Nutcracker” brings the magic of the holiday season to homes across the region and beyond. Thanks to generous support from PBT sponsors, the virtual program will be offered at no cost to the public through Dec. 31. PBT’s production of “Fireside Nutcracker” is sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Giant Eagle and Clearview Federal Credit Union. 

The virtual run of “Fireside Nutcracker” will kick off with a special opening night event on Dec. 17, underwritten by UPMC and UPMC Health Plan, sponsored by Carol Hefren Tillotson and Steffie Bozic, with additional support from Hefren-Tillotson, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Seton Hill University. 

Throughout the month of December, PBT will also offer more than a dozen “Nutcracker”-themed virtual education programs for $5 each. For more information and to register for access to the film, visit pbt.org/nutcracker.

The mission of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is to be Pittsburgh’s source and ambassador for extraordinary ballet experiences. While traditional performances are a challenge right now, PBT is dedicated to fulfilling that mission and connecting audiences to the art form. The company is currently exploring every avenue to be able to deliver world-class ballet to the region and beyond. PBT is planning an array of in-person events and online programs, including exclusive behind-the-scenes content and educational programming, beginning in the new year. Check pbt.org for the latest updates and offerings.

A Message from PBT’s New Artistic Director

Hello, Pittsburgh! Last month, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre made a small but triumphant return to live performances outside at our Strip District studios, and I had the honor of introducing our company dancers on stage as the new artistic director. What a humbling and emotional experience. One word best describes how I got here – serendipity.

As some of you may already know, former Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr was a mentor of mine when he was a rehearsal coach at American Ballet Theatre. What you may not know is that his guidance influenced not only the trajectory of my career, but also how I approached performing. 

I recall it so well. I was standing backstage before a performance, visibly nervous. Upon noticing, Terrence approached me and asked, “Have you heard what golfers do? They see the hole-in-one before they take the stroke.

Susan Jaffe

That wisdom prompted me to learn how to retrain my mind and visualize my performances going well. This idea was life-changing! A positive mindset is crucial, especially during times of challenge and adversity. 

Maintaining positivity resonates now more than ever.

The more I get to know the dancers of PBT and the people who hold them in such high esteem, the easier I can visualize us rising from these challenging times even stronger than before.

As evident in our recent television broadcast at Hartwood Acres and at our Open Air Series, our dancers are hungry to move their bodies freely again and perform for more intimate audiences this fall. We’re also lucky to have an industrious and talented staff working behind the scenes to deliver the kind of creativity and energy that only arts organizations can provide. 

The key to our success now lies with you, our patrons. I am inspired by your Pittsburgh pride and loyalty to PBT, and I look forward to seeing how our company, school and community partnerships can transform. With your support, the possibilities to keep us dancing are limitless.

Whether it be outside in your neighborhood, at our Strip District campus or at the Benedum Center, I look forward to sharing the beauty of ballet with you this season! 

On behalf of all of us at PBT, we thank you for all you do. 

Warmly,
Susan Jaffe

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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Announces Changes to 2020-2021 Fall Season; Alternative Programming

In response to public health guidance and restrictions on public assembly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) will present an updated 2020-2021 Season, beginning Sept. 10 with a series of outdoor performances at PBT Studios in the Strip District. 

PBT’s performances of “Balanchine + Tchaikovsky” and “The Nutcracker” will not take place at the Benedum Center as scheduled. In lieu of traditional theater performances, PBT will offer ticket holders to “Balanchine + Tchaikovsky” a socially distanced, outdoor ballet experience presented PBT’s new mobile performing arts venue at PBT’s Strip District campus. PBT is exploring options to reimagine “The Nutcracker” for audiences in December. Programs scheduled for 2021 remain unchanged.

“While this isn’t the season we had planned, we’re thrilled to be able to connect with our audience outdoors and online,” Artistic Director Susan Jaffe, who took the helm of the company at the height of the pandemic in July, said. “It’s our mission to provide Pittsburgh with extraordinary ballet experiences, and the adaptability and creativity of our company and staff makes that possible, even within the limitations of a COVID-19 world.” 

PBT is also exploring options for an additional performance in the fall and more opportunities to make use of the mobile performing arts venue throughout the year. 

Open Air Series & Mobile Performing Arts Venue

On Sept. 10-14, PBT will launch its Open Air Series at PBT, an outdoor performing arts series at PBT Studios. The parking lot of PBT’s Strip District campus will be converted into a performance space with socially distanced audience seating and performances on PBT’s new Stageline SAM450 mobile performing arts venue. 

“Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is thrilled to move forward with the purchase of the Stageline SAM450 mobile stage with 85 percent of the funds raised,” Executive Director Harris Ferris said, “and we are encouraged by strong interest from additional partners to complete the funding. Major gifts received so far are from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust and the Jack Buncher Foundation. With the SAM450 capable of mounting full-scale ballet, opera, symphony, and all manner of performing arts productions, it provides a solution in the current pandemic and a window to the future. We are looking toward a future of performing arts that engages people in their own communities, expanding our reach and increasing access to the arts for audiences throughout the region.”

Patrons with tickets to “Balanchine + Tchaikovsky” will be offered the option to use their tickets to attend a mixed-repertory production held for a small, socially distanced audience. These PBT performances will not be open to the broader public, but the ballet intends to use the mobile performing arts venue and the Open Air Series to continue to connect audiences to the performing arts through outdoor events throughout the region.

For the Open Air Series inaugural performances, safety protocols such as mandatory masks, socially distanced seating, digital playbills and limited access to the PBT building will be enforced during performances. 

In addition to PBT, several other arts organizations in Pittsburgh will host performances during the Open Air Series from Sept. 10-14. Pittsburgh CLO will present solo performances featuring students from the CLO Academy Professional Development Program on Sept. 12. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will perform a concert of popular classical works performed by ensembles of its musicians on Sept. 13. Also on Sept. 13, Pittsburgh Opera will present a short program that Sunday evening, with details to follow. The August Wilson African American Cultural Center will present live jazz with the Jevon Rushton Group and special guests on Sept. 14. Details about these performances and ticket information will be available soon on each organization’s website. 

PBT’s performance will include performances of excerpts from “Coppelia,” “Swan Lake,” “Who Cares?,” “The Sleeping Beauty” and more.

“The Nutcracker” Experience

The magic of “The Nutcracker” will be transformed in December 2020 when PBT presents a reimagined “Nutcracker” experience. The reimagining, which will include educational programs and special at-home offerings, will be available to existing “Nutcracker” ticket holders and the public. Details about PBT’s “Nutcracker” experience will be announced this fall. 

PBT School Reopening

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will welcome students back to the studios this fall with in-person, online and hybrid programs. PBT School programming has been entirely virtual since the building closed in March. Beginning in September, after three weeks of remote learning, PBT School students of all levels will have options for in-person, virtual or hybrid programs. Safety protocols, including limited class sizes, enforced social distancing and limited time spent in the building will be part of PBT School’s reopening.

For more information on PBT School’s fall programs, visit the PBT School webpage here

Ticket Information & FAQ

Subscribers and ticket holders to performances of “Balanchine + Tchaikovsky” and “The Nutcracker” will receive an email from PBT patron services outlining several options for tickets. Patrons with tickets to “Balanchine + Tchaikovsky” will have the opportunity to use their ticket to attend the Open Air Series, request a refund, save their ticket for a future PBT performance or donate the cost of the ticket to PBT. 

Subscribers and ticket holders with tickets to “The Nutcracker” will be contacted in the coming weeks with options for their ticket and details about PBT’s reimagined “Nutcracker” experience.

For frequently asked questions regarding ticket options and subscriptions, please visit PBT’s website.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Company Reunites for County Parks Summer Series

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) company dancers reunited at Hartwood Acres after months of working remotely to film a performance for the Allegheny County Parks Summer Concert Series sponsored by BNY Mellon. The episode, featuring a new adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” will air on Pittsburgh’s CW network and on social media on Aug. 16, 2020.

In bringing together the entire PBT company, along with staff and videographers, PBT became the first ballet company in the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) to perform together since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This is a challenging time for our members and the arts, so we are thrilled that AGMA and PBT were able to work together to find a way to make this project happen,” Len Egert, national executive director of AGMA, said. “AGMA and PBT worked collaboratively in early June to develop safe work protocols for PBT dancers. In a week’s time, we developed a plan with guidance from AGMA’s medical experts that allowed the PBT company to gather together, in person, safely. PBT is the first AGMA company to be able to bring its entire workforce together on contract since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.”

PBT’s adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was conceived and choreographed remotely by PBT company dancers Tommie Lynn Kesten, Jessica McCann, Kurtis Sprowls and Cooper Verona under the direction of Artistic Director Susan Jaffe. Dancers learned choreography via Zoom prior to filming and performed throughout the Hartwood Acres campus following strict safety protocols. 

Dancers remained socially distanced throughout the filming, with the exception of those who have been cohabitating throughout the pandemic. Crew and artists were given health screenings prior to filming, masks were worn at all times outside of performance and surfaces were regularly cleaned with commercial cleaner throughout the shoot, among other safety precautions followed. 

“We are very excited to see the final product,” said Egert. “Seeing our artists doing what they love once again brings us great joy.” 

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be part of a nine-concert series of local artists televised on Pittsburgh’s CW network on Sunday night’s at 7 p.m. through Sept. 6. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will air on Sunday, Aug. 16 with special guest the Pittsburgh Opera. The performance will be posted on the Allegheny County Parks Facebook page and YouTube channel after broadcast. 

See Casting

Support PBT at Hartwood Acres

 

 

A Conversation with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School Alumna Elenora Morris

Pittsburgh native Elenora Morris began her training with PBT School in 2003 as a Level 1 student and honed her skills over 10 years in the School, graduating as a full-time high school student in 2013. Her decade at PBT helped shape her career, through yearly Nutcracker performances, themed modern classes with PBT faculty and advice that sticks with her to this day – “if you think your knee is straight, think again!”

PBT School recently spoke to Elenora, now a dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, about her career and her time at PBT. See the interview below!

Wherever I go, I’m grateful for the great training and performing experience I got right in my hometown at PBT, and I always look forward to popping into the studio when I’m home and reconnecting with everyone.

Cover Photos by Natascha Rydvald and Franz Siegert

A Statement on Justice from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Criminal acts of violence, like those that killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks, highlight the insidious illness of racism in America. These are not isolated incidents. They are a gruesome reminder of the hate, discrimination and injustice that exists in our nation today. 

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre embraces diversity in our organization and stands in solidarity with Black artists, students, donors, board members, patrons, friends, neighbors and the entire Black community in the fight for equality. Black lives do matter. 

We are renewing our commitment to the pursuit of racial justice and equity. The work before us is crucial and PBT stands accountable to our local communities of color and to the international dance community to do this work. We dedicate ourselves to fostering an inspiring, accessible and equitable environment that embraces and gives voice to individuals of all backgrounds, races and life experiences. 

Actions 

As a member of the national Equity Project, PBT is committed to the advancement of racial equity in our company, our school and our entire organization. PBT’s Equity Transformation Team is finalizing a five-year plan of action to improve racial diversity and equity throughout PBT. We will continue to provide updates in the weeks, months and years to come. Below is a brief summary of some key initiatives:  

  • Programming PBT pledges to further highlight the art and voices of dancers and choreographers of color. Our partnership with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center has always been a centerpiece of our seasons, and we will continue to foster this ongoing commitment to presenting culturally relevant work at the AWAACC. BNY Mellon presents Here + Now, originally scheduled for March 2020 and rescheduled for April 2021, features the works of three Black choreographers, including PBT Artist in Residence Staycee Pearl, sponsored by Arts, Equity & Education Fund.
  • On Stage – The art we present on stage should be a reflection of the community we serve. Through long-term artistic planning and a focus on inclusivity in our company and choreography, we will bring to the stage works that embody the passion and diversity of Pittsburgh.
  • Hiring and Recruitment PBT will complete an overhaul of recruitment and hiring policies for administrative staff, artists and board members in the interest of increased equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Training of Young Dancers PBT School’s Community Youth Scholarship, now in its seventh year, builds a pathway to training, performing and participation early in a student’s ballet education, and is renewed annually to support ambitious students through the entire PBT School program.
  • Dialogue PBT’s Equity Transformation Team is now meeting weekly for open discussions around our responsibility to our community and our art form, with over 75 PBT artists, staff, teachers and board members in attendance. The team has renewed our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in all facets of the organization.
  • Organizational Training – PBT artists, faculty and staff will participate in several organization-wide diversity, inclusion and antiracism sessions each year. The first of these sessions occurred in March, with a second planned with local experts for late June.
  • Community Engagement – PBT is committed to increasing the reach and impact of our education programs in the community, introducing students in the Pittsburgh area to the joy and self-expression of dance. To connect students in PBT’s community programs with PBT School, we will be introducing the Bridges program, intended to “bridge” participation in PBT’s community classes to enrollment at PBT School and further dance training.
  • Public Spaces & Promotional Materials – PBT will prioritize inclusivity in our public spaces – such as the lobby and parent waiting areas of PBT Studios – through artwork that reflects our diverse organization and community and greater efforts by staff to ensure students and families of all backgrounds feel welcome. We will incorporate the same inclusion into our marketing materials, choosing photos and words that echo this commitment to creating an environment that values diversity. 

Resources

We acknowledge the difficulty of the work to be done to dismantle racial inequity in dance and to uphold the values of equity, diversity and inclusion for all. We are committed to doing that work and keeping the conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion open. The arts have always provided a pathway for change, expression and self-actualization. Art is not a distraction from the message of justice; it is an integral part of what moves and heals the world. We embrace this responsibility as we examine and expand our own role to advance racial equality in society.

 

Announcing Updates to PBT’s 2020-2021 Season & Three Company Promotions!

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) has announced updates to its upcoming 2020-2021 Season in response to programs rescheduled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis that forced the closure of non-essential businesses, including PBT and the Cultural Trust venues in which the company performs.

In March, PBT announced the postponement of BNY Mellon presents Here + Now, a mixed-repertory production featuring works by Pittsburgh-native Kyle Abraham, longtime PBT collaborator Dwight Rhoden, renowned Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato and the world-premier of an original piece by PBT Artist in Residence Staycee Pearl, sponsored by AE&E Fund. Shortly thereafter, the company also postponed its performances of Balanchine + Tchaikovsky with the PBT Orchestra, a program featuring choreography by George Balanchine set to the music of P.I. Tchaikovsky.

Both BNY Mellon presents Here + Now and Balanchine + Tchaikovsky have been incorporated into PBT’s upcoming 2020-2021 Season. The season will now feature a total of six programs, beginning with Balanchine + Tchaikovsky with the PBT Orchestra in October. Cinderella with the PBT Orchestra, originally scheduled as the season opener, has been rescheduled for February, replacing The Merry Widow. BNY Mellon presents Here + Now will be featured at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in April, alongside the Modern Masters program.

Ticket holders for the two rescheduled programs will be contacted by PBT via email and by phone to discuss options for attending these performances. Patrons who have already subscribed to PBT’s 2020-2021 Season will also be contacted by PBT to discuss options to add the sixth program to their package.

Company Promotions

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has also announced the promotion of three corps de ballet dancers to the rank of soloist for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2020-2021 Season.

Dancers Tommie Kesten of Pittsburgh; Lucius Kirst of Los Angeles; and Jessica McCann of Los Angeles will begin their first mainstage season as soloists this fall with Balanchine + Tchaikovsky with the PBT Orchestra on stage Oct. 23-25 at the Benedum Center.

About PBT’s Newest Soloists’

Tommie Lin Kesten

Tommie KestenPittsburgh native Tommie Lin Kesten joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2018 from PBT’s Graduate Program, where she trained for a year. Tommie was named one of Pointe Magazine’s “Stars of the Corps” in 2019 and Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2020. She received her early training from The Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh and Miami City Ballet School, and completed summer intensives at the School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet and PBT School. Tommie has performed Sugar Plum Fairy in PBT’s The Nutcracker, Bluebird Pas de Deux in The Sleeping Beauty, and Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle. Her repertoire also includes George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, Valse Fantaisie, Western Symphony, Divertimento No. 15 and Tall Girl in Rubies, as well as Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces.

 

Lucius Kirst

Lucius KirstA native of Los Angeles, Lucius Kirst joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2014. Kirst previously performed with Ballet San Jose as a member of the corps de ballet and was also a member of the Studio Company at American Ballet Theatre. Kirst trained on full scholarship at The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York City, and received his early training at City Ballet School in San Francisco and Marin Ballet in California. He has participated in summer intensive programs at American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet.

 

 

 

Jessica McCann

Jessica McCannJessica McCann, of Los Angeles, joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2015. Her past training includes a year with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet in San Francisco and American Ballet Theatre in New York, before joining PBT’s Pre-Professional Program in 2013. Since joining the company, McCann was chosen for Pointe Magazine’s top 10 “Stars of the Corps” in 2016. She has performed many featured roles at PBT, including Principal Couple in George Balanchine’s Rubies; the lead in William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated; Blue Bird Pas de Deux, Diamond Variation, the Fairy of Abundance and Canary Fairy in Terrence S. Orr’s The Sleeping Beauty; Pas de Trois and Cygnets in Orr’s Swan Lake; Peasant Pas de Duex and Zulma demi soloist in Orr’s Giselle; Anita in West Side Story Suite and the First Girl in Fancy Free by Jerome Robbins; Dwight Rhoden’s Ava Maria; and the Sugar Plum Fairy, Marie, Arabian and Snow Queen in Orr’s The Nutcracker.

Other memorable performances include Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze and Sinfonietta; the Pas de Duex in Nacho Duato’s Duende; the soloist in Kyle Abraham’s The Quiet Dance; Spring Waters Pas de Deux; the Cook in Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland; a Harlot in Derek Deane’s Romeo and Juliet; and an Odalisque in Le Corsaire. McCann has also performed in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante, Divertimento No.15 and Western Symphony; Antony Tudor’s Jardin Aux Lilas; Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet; Ben Stevenson’s Dracula; as well as PBT’s La Bayadère, and Lew Christensen’s Beauty and The Beast. For its 2017-2018 main-stage season, PBT commissioned McCann to choreograph a new work, the silver line., which made its world premiere in March 2018. She has also created Amoeba, a new work for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Graduate Program that premiered at the School’s end-of-year showcase in 2019.
McCann has done guest performance outside of the U.S. in Japan and Bermuda, where she has both danced and choreographed. She was also asked to judge the World Dream Ballet Competition in Osaka, Japan in 2018.

PBT’s 2020-2021 Season

Balanchine + Tchaikovsky with the PBT Orchestra
Oct. 23-25, 2020 — Benedum Center
Choreography: George Balanchine | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s storied history with Balanchine and Tchaikovsky is revived in this mixed-repertory production celebrating two of ballet’s greatest contributors. The music of P.I. Tchaikovsky has provided the backbone for many of George Balanchine’s most exquisite ballets, including the invigorating Theme and Variations, the expansive Allegro Brillante and the consummate Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, set to the classic music of Swan Lake. This program event also features Diamonds, the brilliant third movement of Balanchine’s Jewels.

The Nutcracker
Dec. 4-27, 2020 — Benedum Center
Choreography & Concept: Terrence S. Orr | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

The magic of the holiday season fills the Benedum Center stage in The Nutcracker. PBT’s Pittsburgh-inspired production captures the excitement of the original story through five fanciful scenes, over 150 unique costumes and Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. With a rotating cast of dozens of dancers, each performance provides a fresh experience to audiences and artists alike.

Cinderella with the PBT Orchestra
Feb. 12-14, 2021 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Kent Stowell | Music: Sergei Prokofiev

A classic fairy tale is renewed with romance at its core in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre premier of Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Attend the royal ball with Cinderella, her wicked step sisters and her prince as the familiar tale of true love unfolds through grand theatrical scenery, glittering costumes and Prokofiev’s splendid score.

BNY Mellon presents Here + Now ft. Kyle Abraham, Dwight Rhoden, Nacho Duato and PBT Artist in Residence Staycee Pearl, sponsored by AE&E Fund
April 8-11, 2021 — August Wilson African American Cultural Center
In partnership with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory

This mixed-repertory production brings together celebrated choreographers to create stunning dance for the here and now in the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. The Quiet Dance, from Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham, captures the feelings of frustration and isolation through sweeping movement, beginning in silence and then carried by the gentleness of Bill Evans’ arrangement of Bernstein’s Some Other Time. The beloved popular music of Paul Simon sets the stage for Dwight Rhoden’s physical and visceral Simon Said. Finally, local choreographer Staycee Pearl presents the world premier of SKIN + saltwater, a visionary piece created for the PBT Company.

Modern Masters ft. Mark Morris, Nacho Duato and More
April 15-18, 2021 — August Wilson African American Cultural Center
In partnership with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre returns to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center with a mixed-repertory program featuring Mark Morris’ exultant Maelstrom, set to Beethoven’s Ghost Trio. Nacho Duato puts the music of Claude Debussy at the center of his enchanting Duende, fluidly melding the human form and the shape of sound to create a magical landscape. The final piece of the performance will be chosen by PBT’s incoming artistic director, Susan Jaffe.

Alice in Wonderland
May 7-16, 2021 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Derek Deane | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky, additional music by Carl Davis

Step into a surreal world of outlandish illusion, dreamlike scenery and your favorite Lewis Carroll characters in Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland. A whimsical medley of Tchaikovsky’s music provides the perfect backdrop to the madness of deranged tea parties, unhinged games of croquet and extraordinary dance. Don’t miss the madcap ballet the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls an “old-fashioned romp through [the] British classic, ripe with an over-the-top music hall flavor.”

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Names Susan Jaffe New Artistic Director

After an extensive search, the Board of Trustees of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School (PBT School) announced today the appointment of Susan Jaffe as artistic director. Jaffe will succeed Terrence S. Orr, who last summer announced his intent to retire in June 2020, after the company’s 50th Anniversary Season.

“After a thorough and comprehensive search over the past nine months aided by Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA), we are thrilled to announce that Susan Jaffe, currently Dean of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), will become PBT’s next artistic director,” Board Chair Dawn Fleischner.

“Susan brings a dynamic set of skills and valuable experience gained working in the arts since retiring from her illustrious dance career,” Fleischner added. “In her most recent role at UNCSA, she built a thriving program centered on dancer health and well-being, creating strong community connections while striving for students to achieve high-quality artistry.”

Jaffe will assume the role of artistic director for PBT’s 2020-2021 Season opening in October.

“I am thrilled to take the helm of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as its new artistic director,” said Jaffe. “Leading PBT artistically is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to working with the dancers and everyone in the organization to bring it to its future. Additionally, I am honored to be in the lineage of the artistic directors of PBT who have developed a vast array of repertoire, from the classics to contemporary ballet.”

Jaffe joins the ranks of the company’s distinguished artistic directors, including founding artistic director Nikolas Petrov; Patricia Wilde who, during her tenure from 1982 to 1996, invigorated the company with her refined technique and the works of modern masters; and Terrence S. Orr, who has led the company since 1997, elevating its repertoire through his artistic vision and creative collaborations.

“I have known Susan for a very long time,” said Orr, “and I’ve been proud to know her all these years. I think that she will be a wonderful artistic director for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and we are very lucky to have her leadership for the years to come.”

“Susan is extremely impressive and a fabulous candidate who is up to the challenges that the world is currently facing,” added PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris, “having pivoted her own organization to address the coronavirus.”

About Susan Jaffe

Susan Jaffe, declared “America’s Quintessential American Ballerina” by the New York Times, danced for American Ballet Theatre (ABT) as a principal dancer for 22 years. She appeared prominently in the international dance scene, including performances with the Royal Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet and the English National Ballet. She frequently danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov.

After her retirement from the stage in 2002, Jaffe was appointed advisor to the chairman of the board of ABT, working closely with them from 2002-2007. During that time, she became a teacher at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre, which ultimately inspired her to co-found and co-direct Princeton Dance and Theater Studio (PDT) in Princeton, N.J. in 2003. In 2010, Jaffe was appointed Ballet Mistress of ABT and in 2012, she was appointed Dean of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) in Winston-Salem, NC.

During her tenure at UNCSA, Jaffe, in collaboration with faculty, produced and implemented a syllabus based on the ABT National Training Curriculum for all levels of the program. She was involved in the development of a dance outreach program for a Title 1 community in Winston-Salem, N.C., and developed and fundraised two scholarships to provide a complete dance education to students on the basis of merit. Jaffe also established the Choreographic Institute of UNCSA, a summer program that nurtures promising choreographers, creating opportunities for them to expand their craft.

A choreographer herself, Jaffe has created works for ABT, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Grand Rapid Ballet’s Move Media, Company C Contemporary Ballet, Configurations Dance Theatre, DanceVision Youth Ensemble (a non-profit organization she co-founded in Princeton, N.J.), the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Texas Christian University, Princeton University, UNCSA, Youth American Grand Prix Gala, the University of Utah and Goucher College, among others.

Jaffe was New York Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1998. In 2003, Dance Magazine honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. And in 2010, Jaffe received an honorary doctorate from Texas Christian University.

About the Artistic Director Search

PBT began the search for its new artistic director after the June 2019 announcement of Terrence S. Orr’s retirement. The PBT Board of Trustees formed a search committee, co-chaired by Dawn Fleischner and Mary McKinney Flaherty, and selected David Mallette and Jason Palmquist of Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA) to conduct the search for PBT’s new artistic director. MCA’s extensive information gathering process included interviews with PBT senior management, administrative and artistic staff, company dancers, board members, and key stakeholders. Based on this process, MCA and the Search Committee created a position profile that was posted in early October.

Throughout the search, the strong reputation of the company and Pittsburgh’s own robust arts and culture community proved to be draws for a diverse pool of candidates. MCA evaluated over 150 ballet professionals from the United States and abroad. From the applicants, MCA presented 14 accomplished candidates for closer review. The Search Committee elected to interview eight of those – four men and four women, including three persons of color. Ultimately, Jaffe was chosen from among the four final candidates.

“Our committee was impressed with her vast experience and creative vision that directly align with the goals of our candidate search,” Fleischner said.

“The volunteer search committee was able to persevere against the headwinds of this crisis and stay firmly on schedule to announce the new artistic director,” Ferris noted.

Announcing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2020-2021 Season!

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr is proud to announce the company’s 2020-2021 Season lineup, featuring a mixed-repertory program of masterful choreographers, the return of Derek Deane’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and the PBT premier of Ronald Hynd’s “The Merry Widow.” Orr will retire as artistic director in June 2020. 

The five-ballet season will run from October 2020 through May 2021 and includes: “Cinderella” with the PBT Orchestra, “The Nutcracker,” “The Merry Widow” with the PBT Orchestra,” “Modern Masters” featuring works by Mark Morris and Nacho Duato, and “Alice in Wonderland.”

Single tickets start at $28 and will be available this August at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666. Subscription packages start at $81 at www.pbt.org or 412-454-9107 and offer 20 percent savings over single tickets and a variety of subscriber benefits. 

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2020-2021 SEASON LINEUP

“Cinderella” with the PBT Orchestra
Oct. 23-25, 2020 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Kent Stowell | Music: Sergei Prokofiev 
A classic fairy tale is renewed with romance at its core in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre premier of Kent Stowell’s Cinderella. Attend the royal ball with Cinderella, her wicked step sisters and her prince as the familiar tale of true love unfolds through grand theatrical scenery, glittering costumes and Prokofiev’s splendid score. 

“The Nutcracker”
Dec. 4-27, 2020 — Benedum Center
Choreography & Concept: Terrence S. Orr | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky
The magic of the holiday season fills the Benedum Center stage in The Nutcracker. PBT’s Pittsburgh-inspired production captures the excitement of the original story through five fanciful scenes, over 150 unique costumes and Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. With a rotating cast of dozens of dancers, each performance provides a fresh experience to audiences and artists alike.        

“The Merry Widow” with the PBT Orchestra
Feb. 12-14, 2021 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Ronald Hynd | Music: Franz Lehár 
Toast to the glitz and glamour of The Merry Widow! With his nation on the verge of bankruptcy, it’s up to the debonair Count Danilo to woo the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari and use her fortune to save his country. But the object of his affection is the same childhood sweetheart he jilted so long ago. This buoyant ballet explores the romance and intrigue unraveling in a Belle Epoque ballroom in Paris through lavish costumes and lush dancing.

“Modern Masters” ft. Mark Morris, Nacho Duato and More 
April 9-18, 2021 — August Wilson African American Cultural Center
In partnership with the August Wilson African American Cultural Center 
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre returns to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center with a mixed-repertory program featuring Mark Morris’ exultant Maelstrom, set to Beethoven’s Ghost Trio. Nacho Duato puts the music of Claude Debussy at the center of his enchanting Duende, fluidly melding the human form and the shape of sound to create a magical landscape. The final piece of the performance will be chosen by PBT’s incoming artistic director.

“Alice in Wonderland”
May 7-16, 2021 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Derek Deane | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky, additional music by Carl Davis
Step into a surreal world of outlandish illusion, dreamlike scenery and your favorite Lewis Carroll characters in Derek Deane’s Alice in Wonderland. A whimsical medley of Tchaikovsky’s music provides the perfect backdrop to the madness of deranged tea parties, unhinged games of croquet and extraordinary dance. Don’t miss the madcap ballet the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls an “old-fashioned romp through [the] British classic, ripe with an over-the-top music hall flavor.”

Casting for PNC Presents Beauty and the Beast is Announced!

Casting for Beauty and the Beast is up! Four outstanding couples will tackle the lead roles of Beauty and the Beast throughout the two-weekend run. PNC presents Beauty and the Beast opens Valentine’s Day and runs through Feb. 23 at the Benedum Center, including a special sensory-friendly performance on Feb. 23.

See complete casting here!

Get Tickets

Meet Your Beauties and Beasts:

Diana Yohe & William Moore: Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. (student matinee) and Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

Diana Yohe & Yoshiaki Nakano: Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.

Amanda Cochrane & Yoshiaki Nakano: Feb 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. (sensory-friendly performance).

Hannah Carter & Lucius Kirst: Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. and Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.

Alexandra Kochis & Alejandro Diaz: Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., Feb. 15 at 8 p.m., Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 12 p.m.

Explore Beauty and the Beast

  • Watch: View the trailer here.

New Dancer Spotlight: Josiah Kauffman

Josiah Kauffman, PBT’s sixth new dancer for 2019-2020, didn’t have an easy path to his professional career. But it was injury that cemented ballet as his passion. Get to know Josiah:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Belgrade, Montana

Family: “I have a dad and mom, a little brother and a little sister, a pug, and a cat. I love them all and I miss them a lot.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I spend some time in prayer and listen to music to get me pumped.”

Hobbies: “I love playing all sorts of instruments (guitar and mandolin). I also really enjoy playing chess.”

Favorite food: “Cheeseburgers!”

Favorite musician/song: “Rend Collective.”

Ultimate dream role: “Spartacus!”

Favorite role to date: “I got to play Basilio in Don Quixote at my school in Indiana this last spring.”

Q&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your training? How has it prepared you for a professional position?

“My teachers, [former PBT dancer] Robert Moore and Pollyana Ribeiro really emphasized dancing with artistry instead of just doing the steps for the steps. Growing up in a competition studio in my earlier years, I always thought choreography had to be trick-heavy and explosive to impress an audience. After switching to classical ballet, I learned that putting my heart and soul into choreography can be a lot more moving than just pulling off heavy tricks.”

Describe your ballet “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.

“When I was 14 years old, I had a medical scare. The doctors told me I had fractured my C-4 vertebrae and I could be paralyzed from the neck down with too much movement – dancing was pretty much off the table. Being faced with the possibility of never dancing again, I realized what a crucial part of my life it was.  Thankfully, they found that I only had a minor fracture and was able to continue my training.”

What are some of your personal goals for your first season as a company dancer?

“My goal is to grow more as a dancer and a performer.”

What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer?

“Striving for perfection is the most fulfilling thing for me. I like a challenge.”

What are you most looking forward to next season?

“Being able to dance and perform with professionals on a regular basis is something I am really looking forward to and I’m excited to see more growth in my abilities.”

If I wasn’t a ballet dancer, I would be…

“I like to work with my hands, so I’d probably build houses or do something with music.”