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.”

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Announces Live Music Appeal

In celebration of its 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) will embark on a Live Music Appeal to help sustain live music at PBT performances for the next 50 years. The appeal will raise $7.2 million by 2022 to ensure that the level of live music that PBT audiences have come to expect at performances each year will continue for the next generation.

For the past nine seasons, a single individual, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has been instrumental in supporting two to three programs every season with the PBT Orchestra. In support of PBT’s Live Music Appeal, this same individual has pledged a $3 million gift to double every donation made to live music over the next three years.

“It’s a way for our audience to preserve the experience [of live music] for generations to come,” Director of Development Christy Rowing said. “And it tells the next generation that, if you have an interest in being a classical musician, we have a venue for you to perform in.”

The Live Music Appeal will be announced to PBT audiences prior to performances of “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra from Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center with a video celebrating PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season and remarks from PBT Music Director and Principal Conductor Charles Barker. 

“Having an orchestra in the pit sets up a sense of excitement, even for people who have been going to the theater their whole lives,” Barker said. “They still get a sense that something magical is about to happen.” 

As of Oct. 21, 2019, PBT has raised $3.7 million toward the Live Music Appeal – just over half of the total goal. While securing a live orchestra for performances of The Nutcracker is a long-term strategic goal of PBT, the Live Music Appeal will focus on sustaining two to three programs each season with the PBT Orchestra, totaling over 500 individual performances over the next 50 years. 

DONATE NOW

Donations can be made via text, web or mail.
To donate:
Visit: pbt.org/livemusic
Call: 412-454-9133
Text: PBTLIVEMUSIC to 56651

Please note that all gifts are tax deductible.

 

Casting for Giselle with the PBT Orchestra

Ready to get the Wilis? Casting for Highmark presents Giselle with the PBT Orchestra has been announced! See Giselle, her love Albrecht, the jealous Hilarion, and Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, on the Benedum Center stage Oct. 25-27. Principal dancer Luca Sbrizzi will also take his final bow at the Oct. 26 performance at 8 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct.26, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m.
Giselle Amanda Cochrane Hannah Carter Alexandra Kochis Amanda Cochrane
Albrecht Yoshiaki Nakano Alejandro Diaz Luca Sbrizzi Yoshiaki Nakano
Hilarion Corey Bourbonniere Cooper Verona William Moore Corey Bourbonniere
Myrtha Diana Yohe Marisa Grywalski Marisa Grywalski Diana Yohe

Giselle with the PBT Orchestra runs Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center. Get tickets and view the full cast list here.

Explore Giselle

New Dancer Spotlight: Erin Casale

Fresh from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s graduate program, Erin Casale is one of six new company members joining PBT for its 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020. Learn how Erin gets ready for a performance, what her ultimate dream role is and what she’s hoping to accomplish during her first year as a professional dancer here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Family: “I’m the oldest child out of three. I have a younger sister and a younger brother. My mother and father are super supportive and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I usually try to get to the theater pretty early so I don’t have to rush myself at any point while getting ready. I always listen to Billy Joel to get me pumped up and ready to go.”

Hobbies: “I really enjoy sewing and cross stitching. I like trying new crafts and projects too! I also have a few betta fish that I really enjoy taking care of.”

Favorite food: “Any Chinese food, really, but vegetable lo mein is my absolute favorite!”

Favorite musician/song: “‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen”

Ultimate dream role: ” I would love to perform Juliet or Cinderella.

Favorite role to date: “It’s hard to choose between performing the first movement of Western Symphony or Raymonda.

Q&A

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

“I was fortunate enough to work with the company during both my years in the graduate program, which gave me the opportunity to really feel what it’s like to work with the company. It was also a big test for me to see whether I was able to handle the pressure and if I was good enough to make it in this industry.”

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

“Growing up in Johnstown, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to go and watch ballet, so my mom started taking me to see Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s productions. When my family moved to Washington D.C., I was able to attend PBT’s five-week summer program, and that was when it really clicked. My dream was to dance with PBT and now I’m very fortunate to say that I am.”

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

“I definitely want to continue working on cleaning my technique. I also want to step out of my comfort zone and learn as much as I can from other dancers. There are so many different dancers and it’s fascinating to see how everyone approaches each role.”

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

“Ballet has always been a part of me. It lets me escape reality and explore different characters. I could be having a hard time in the studio with some of the rehearsals, but performing just has that magical quality to it. That fear just disappears and I feel free.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“Definitely Balanchine & Tchaikovsky and Giselle.”

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

“Criminal psychologist or profiler. I’m super into true crime and I find it absolutely fascinating!”

New Dancer Spotlight: Grace Rookstool

Grace Rookstool is part of the new cohort of PBT dancers hired by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr for the company’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020. Grace’s passion for dance started early and runs deep, from watching her older sisters practice ballet to taking the stage herself. In fact, the dancers among her family of 10 have racked up over 350 performances of The Nutcracker, between them. Learn more about one of PBT’s newest company members here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Langley, Washington

Family: “I come from a family of 10 kids. I’m number 7 in the line-up.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I like to get there in plenty of time to get myself ready, and to get pumped up and excited for the show.”

Hobbies: “Baking, going for walks and playing around on the piano.”

Favorite food: “Ice cream.”

Favorite musician/song: “I don’t have an absolute favorite. I like everything from Billie Eilish to Queen to Frank Sinatra.”

Ultimate dream role: “Odette/Odile.

Favorite role to date:A Meditation, Pas de Deux, choreographed by Cecilia Iliesu for the PNB Next Step program. It was my first pas on stage and I got to do it with someone I was close with.

Q&A

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

“I started ballet when I was 3 years old. I’ve been learning technique for as long as I can remember, but learning to express myself as an artist on stage for an audience – or even just in class for myself – has helped me to grow so much over the years. All of the training I’ve received over the years, whether it be in technique or artistry, has been part of showing me what it means to be a professional dancer. It taught me to want to be in any role and to always be ready to jump in at the last minute and express myself to the fullest.”

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

“My ‘moment’ when I knew I wanted this more than anything – to become a ballerina – had to be the first time I saw George Balanchine’s Jewels. I was 9 years old and was lucky enough to see Carla Korbes and Karel Cruz perform the Diamonds Pas de Deux together. It was such an amazing performance, it made me want to reach those heights as an artist, which is exactly what I set out to do after that show.”

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

“For the upcoming season I plan to give 110 percent to each and every opportunity I am given. I also plan to keep on growing as a technician and an artist, and to push forward to new heights for both the audience and myself.”

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

“I would have to say the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is getting past all the hard work we do in the studios and putting our performances on stage to connect with the audience.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“The most exciting thing I’m looking forward to this upcoming season is to finally be a member of a professional ballet company, and taking my passion and making it my career. Not only that, but becoming acquainted with a whole new corner of the ballet world, including artistic staff, coworkers, new friends, etc.”

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

“If I never had my ‘epiphany moment’ in ballet and didn’t become a professional ballet dancer, I think I’d be involved in missionary work or other endeavors reaching out to help the underprivileged, or those affected by natural disasters.  I would want to be involved in helping make the world a better place.”

New Dancer Alert: Sixth New Company Member Signed for 2019-2020 Season

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has hired Josiah Kauffman of Belgrade, Montana to the company roster as an apprentice for PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020, which opens Oct. 25-27, with “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra.

Kauffman is the sixth new dancer added to the company roster for the 2019-2020 season, joining Erin Casale, Grace Rookstool, Allison Durand, Jack Hawn and Sam DerGregorian. 

Single ticket sales for “Giselle” and other 50th Anniversary Season productions open Aug. 6, at www.pbt.org, 412-456-6666 or the Box Office at Theater Square. Tickets start at $28. Subscription packages, starting at $81, are available now by visiting www.pbt.org or calling 412-454-9107.

About the New Dancer

Josiah Kauffman

Josiah Kauffman was born and raised in beautiful Montana, where he began dancing at the age of 9. At 16 he moved to complete his training with Robert Moore and Pollyana Ribeiro at their studio, EnPointe Indiana Ballet. He’s excited to begin his career with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

 

Ballet Under the Stars 2019: Program & Casting

Ballet Under the Stars is Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s chance to get outside! The day is full of activities, food and fun for everyone. From kids activities – like crafts and creative movement classes – to food trucks and the perfect picnic opportunity for grownups, Ballet Under the Stars has a little bit of everything.

The evening includes a fabulous, free, al fresco performance as well. Check out the program and casting and don’t miss the kickoff to PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season with Ballet Under the Stars on Sunday, Aug. 18 at Hartwood Acres.

Bonus: Here’s how to make the most of your day at Hartwood Acres (and tips for staking out the best spot to watch the show).

New Dancer Alert: New Company Member Signed for 2019-2020 Season

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has added Erin Casale to the company roster for PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020, which opens Oct. 25-27, with “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra.

Casale will join the company as an apprentice for the 2019-2020 season. 

Single ticket sales for “Giselle” and other 50th Anniversary Season productions open Aug. 6, at www.pbt.org, 412-456-6666 or the Box Office at Theater Square. Tickets start at $28. Subscription packages, starting at $81, are available now by visiting www.pbt.org or calling 412-454-9107.


About the New Dancer

Erin Casale

Erin Casale, originally from Johnstown, Pa., began her ballet training with Johnstown Concert Ballet. She then moved to Stafford, Va. and furthered her training with Academy of Russian Ballet under Yuri and Jasmine Nikitenko. She then graduated from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s full-time program and completed two years in the graduate program. She has attended summer programs with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and The Harid Conservatory. As a graduate student, she has had the opportunity to perform with the PBT company, including productions of George Balanchine’s “Divertimento No.15,” Terrence S. Orr’s “The Nutcracker,” Jordan Morris’ “The Great Gatsby,” “Swan Lake” and “The Sleeping Beauty.” With PBT School, she has performed in various productions including, “Raymonda,” “Swan Lake,” “Le Corsaire,” “Glazunov Suite,” George Balanchine’s “Western Symphony” and “Theme and Variations,” and new works choreographed by PBT company dancers Jessica McCann and Yoshiaki Nakano.