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).

Luca Sbrizzi to Take Final Bow of 12-Year Career

PITTSBURGH, PA (Aug. 1, 2019) – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) long-time principal dancer Luca Sbrizzi has announced his plans to close his 12-year career with PBT following the company’s 50th Anniversary Season opener in October.

“My career at PBT has been absolutely wonderful,” Sbrizzi said. “I’ve gotten to share the stage with so many dancers I admire and perform all the roles that I’ve ever wanted to do. First and foremost is ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ It’s the reason why I started ballet. It’s the most complete ballet there is, the perfect match of technique and artistry. I feel so immensely grateful I was able to perform this role and fulfill a dream of mine.”

In addition to Romeo in Derek Deane’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Sbrizzi has performed roles with PBT including Frederick and Renfield in Ben Stevenson’s “Dracula,” the title role in Jorden Morris’ “Peter Pan,” Matthew in Jorden Morris’ “Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet,” Prince Desiré in Terrence S. Orr’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” Basilio in Orr’s “Don Quixote,” Solor in Orr’s “La Bayadère,” Albrecht in Orr’s “Giselle” and Prince Sigfried in Orr’s “Swan Lake.”

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr, who will also retire later this season after more than 23 years with the company, said that Sbrizzi’s technical and dramatic abilities bring something special to the company.

“PBT will miss his wonderful contributions and his talent,” Orr said. “I’m really going to miss him.”

Sbrizzi, originally of Udine, Italy, joined PBT in 2007 and was promoted to principal in 2016. Before coming to Pittsburgh, he trained with his sister, Alessia Sbrizzi, at Abidance and Pino Carbone at “Club il Vortice” and performed with Boston Ballet II.

“I feel that Luca and I share a very special commonality of spirit onstage,” Alexandra Kochis, Sbrizzi’s frequent dance partner and fellow Boston Ballet alum, said. “That’s something that every performer craves – that connection. It’s something so powerful and so unique to that time and that place and that partnership. Luca and I have known each other since we were pretty much babies in this industry and, on the ocean of life, I certainly never expected this wave we have ridden for the last 2 plus years [dancing together as principals].”

Sbrizzi intends to stay in Pittsburgh, at his home in Stanton Heights, after his final bow. He and his wife, Jenna are expecting their first child in November of 2019. He received his massage therapy license several years ago and intends to use it to help dancers and athletes feel and perform their best.

“I can’t tell you how much I admire Luca’s work ethic, integrity and dedication,” Gabrielle Thurlow, Sbrizzi’s longtime dance partner, said. “Having danced several roles with him, I was fortunate enough to experience these qualities first hand. Over the years, he’s given me endless laughs, support and motivation, and I will truly miss his presence both in the studio and on stage.”

Sbrizzi will close his tenure at PBT with “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra in October.

“I’ve always been in love with all the major classical ballets,” Sbrizzi said. “In 2016, I was lucky to perform Albrecht in ‘Giselle,’ and that’s why I wanted to circle back to that before retiring. It’s an amazing ballet and it truly takes you through a one-of-a-kind emotional journey. I want to experience that one more time before letting this world go.”

“Since I was very young, I’ve been taught the importance of communicating to the audience – the importance of connecting with them. I think that’s how you capture people’s hearts and how you make the audience feel something. And for me, that’s what the art form is all about.”

See Luca’s final performance on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.

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New Dancer Spotlight: Sam DerGregorian

Sam DerGregorian comes to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from the Professional Division of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, but PBT is not his first company. At just 16, Sam was a member of the New Mexico Ballet Company in his hometown of Albuquerque. There he performed in productions of The Wizard of Oz and, of course, The Nutcracker. Get to know Sam, one of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr’s new hires for the 2019-2020 Season, here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Family: “I have my mom and dad, one brother, one sister, and three dogs!”

Pre-performance ritual: “I love to turn on some energetic music and jam out!”

Hobbies: “I love to watch movies, hang out with friends and explore the city I’m in!”

Favorite food: “Anything breakfast related!”

Favorite musician/song: “Beyoncé!!!!!”

Ultimate dream role: “It changes a lot, but at the moment I would love to do anything in Dances at a Gathering. It seems so fulfilling to dance an hour-long ballet and I love the movement and music of the piece.

Favorite role to date: “At PNB, Margret Mullin is creating a piece for the Professional Division students, and I think that has to be my favorite thing I have done to date.

Q&A

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

“In the past couple of years, I have tried to use my training to develop more artistry. Instead of just performing the steps, I’ve been thinking about how I can perform the step. This could be in the way I use my head, how fast or slow I make the movement, or how I use my port de bras. And by doing this, I think it helps establish a greater connection with an audience because it creates a sense of openness for the audience to relate to.”

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

“I remember being 14 at the PNB summer course. One day in between classes, I looked in on company class. They all just looked so happy, and I realized that I wanted to do that. I never really thought of pursuing ballet as a career, but the moment I saw them something clicked, saying, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ And I’m very excited to be making that dream a reality!”

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

“This season I really want to develop my technique and artistry more. Also, I want to make sure I’m enjoying professional life as much as possible, since this is something I have been dreaming of for a long time!”

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

“To me, that minute on stage is the most fulfilling part. That moment on stage when you’re looking at the crowd and dancing your heart out just makes all the hard work and sweat worth it!”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“I’m very excited for Balanchine program! The ballets in the program are staples from Balanchine’s repertoire, and I’m so excited to see them! I’m also very excited for Giselle. It’s one of the biggest story ballets and it will be my first time ever seeing it!”

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

“If I weren’t a ballet dancer, I would probably have gone into business. But I still think I would’ve found a way into the ballet world.”

PBT on Tour at Chautauqua Institution: Casting and More

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre hits the road on Saturday, July 13 to perform with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at Chautauqua Institution. The company returns to the amphitheater stage with George Balanchine’s Rubies, the sultry second movement of Jewels, set to Igor Stravinksy’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra​. The company will shine through highlights of The Sleeping Beauty, including the dazzling third act and an appearance by the talented students of the Chautauqua School of Dance for the Garland Dance.

Get tickets for the performance and see the complete program and cast list.

New Dancer Spotlight: Allison Durand

Allison Durand, a PBT School student since 2016, is no stranger to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre audiences. As a student, she has performed in Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, Rubies, The Great Gatsby and The Nutcracker with PBT. This season, she makes her official company debut. Get to know Allison, one of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr’s new hires for the 2019-2020 Season, here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

Family: “My younger sister Katie, mom and dad, and Lucy the beagle.”

Pre-performance ritual: “Eat my favorite breakfast smoothie while I read devotions, do my usual warm-up before class, get candy from the backstage candy basket and pray before I go onstage.”

Hobbies: “Baking and blogging about my baking (@waltzoftheflours).”

Favorite food: “Literally any food at all – if it’s edible, I probably like it! But I’m a sucker for dessert.”

Favorite musician/song: “Queen.”

Ultimate dream role: “Giselle.

Favorite role to date: “Arabian in The Nutcracker.

Q&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your time in the PBT School Graduate Program? How has it prepared you for a professional position?

“I definitely feel as though I’ve grown through my years as a grad. The performance opportunities prepared me for the schedule and atmosphere of company life. And because we are training every day, our technique obviously improves over the course of the program. But I think the biggest growth I experienced wasn’t technical, actually. I spent most of my second year and part of my third year here out with injuries. Before that happened, I was placing all my personal worth in ballet – not eating enough, struggling with body image and putting unhealthy pressure on myself to succeed – so I basically fell apart when I lost ballet. Thankfully, God used that low point bring about major growth in me. I came out of the experience physically, spiritually and mentally stronger than I’d ever been. Essentially, I realized that there’s more to me than ballet, a realization that actually made me a better dancer and person – and a realization that every dancer must make in order to avoid burning out or beating themselves up to the point of losing their joy for this art.”

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

“I don’t recall an exact moment when I realized that I wanted to make a career out of ballet. However, there was a period in middle school when I had to take some time off for a foot issue, and I remember realizing so quickly how much I missed dance. I realized that I didn’t want to live a life without ballet if I could. From then on, I approached it with a new intensity and trained with the motivation of dancing professionally one day.”

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

“I think a constant goal for me that comes to mind is increased strength and control, specifically in my feet and ankles. I have very hyper-mobile joints, and getting them as strong as possible has always been a struggle for me. But beyond that, I hope to grow in my artistry – really begin the process of maturing in my dancing. Now that I am not a student, performing will be my job, and I want to go into next year with that shift in mindset. A final goal I have is to positively influence the students at PBT. Because I’ve been in their position for three years, I can truly understand the difficulties that ballet students face, and I want more than anything to use my experiences for the good of those dancing around me.”

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

“For me, just the feeling of performing on stage is most fulfilling – it’s simply indescribable. The opportunity to really become a character (especially characters with personalities very unlike my own) and to share it with an audience brings me such excitement. Also, accomplishing the physical demands of ballet is extremely fulfilling to me – little victories like finally nailing a difficult turn sequence or finishing a brutal day of rehearsal with my body sore and drenched in sweat is oddly satisfying.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“There are so many things! But one of them is performing Giselle again. It’s not only one of my favorite ballets, but it was the first ballet I performed with PBT as a grad student; to do it again but as a company member will be so surreal. I’m also looking forward to the variety of repertoire we’re going to perform next year and the fact that we’re going to have a new Staycee Pearl work set on the company for the August Wilson African American Cultural Center show.”

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

“A baker. I’ve always loved baking, but it became a major passion of mine last year when I had more free time than usual because of the injuries. Now, I create a new recipe and blog post every week. And I’m not vegan, but I specialize in vegan desserts! I could definitely see myself turning it into a job when I’m older and retire from dance.”

PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr to Retire after 23 Years

After leading the company for 23 years, Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has announced he will retire in June 2020 after celebrating the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s upcoming 50​th​ Anniversary Season.

Over more than two decades as artistic director, Orr has grown the company’s repertory with more than 20 new commissions and dozens of acquisitions. He has debuted ambitious story ballets like La Bayadère, Romeo et Juliette and A Streetcar Named Desire; curated major masterworks by dance giants like Jerome Robbins, Jiří Kylián and Twyla Tharp; and provided a platform for emerging choreographers, including from within the company. His original production of ​The Nutcracker has been a Pittsburgh classic for close to 20 years. During his tenure, the company has grown its ticket sales, school enrollment and campus. It has debuted the country’s first professional sensory-friendly production of ​The Nutcracker and increased accessibility and educational programming in the theater, studio and community.

“I have made Pittsburgh my home and certainly my life ever since,” said Orr, who has lived in Sewickley with his wife, PBT Ballet Mistress Marianna Tcherkassky, since becoming PBT artistic director in 1997. “It has been exciting to watch the company grow and rise to incredible heights.”

“We’ve developed a distinct voice and special place in the city where you can experience the great classics, the great choreographers and the emerging voices moving this art form into the future. It has been my honor to lead this company for the past 23 years and great privilege to lead it through its 50​th​ anniversary. I want to thank the dancers, musicians and patrons who have become like family. You have made my time here something I will always cherish.”

Orr, a California native, began his dance career at ​San Francisco Ballet, where he became a principal dancer by age 17. He went on to lead ​a celebrated career at New York City’s American Ballet Theatre (ABT), ​rising from corps de ballet to principal dancer. He joined ABT’s artistic staff while he was still performing and served as ballet master from 1978 to 1997.​ ​He has staged works for ballet companies worldwide, including the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala, Australian Ballet and National Ballet of Japan.

“Hundreds of students and professional dancers can attest to the immeasurable influence and passion that Terry passes on to future generations,” said Dawn Fleischner, ​chair, PBT Board of  Trustees​. “Terry is beloved by the entire organization and we can’t say enough about the indelible legacy he created in Pittsburgh. His vision has set the stage for an exciting future for this company and we will be forever grateful for his leadership.”

The PBT ​Board will work out the next steps of succession planning by forming a search  committee and begin the search for a new artistic director starting this summer.

“It’s been a real privilege and honor to work in partnership with Terry over the past 13 years  and he will be greatly missed,” said Harris Ferris, executive director. “I look forward to  supporting the board in the forthcoming search and transition in artistic leadership.”

Orr will close his career with PBT by leading celebrations for the company’s 50​th​ Anniversary Season, which opens in October at the Benedum Center. The season will honor the company’s history with a five-production lineup featuring ​Giselle with the PBT Orchestra (Oct. 25-27), ​The Nutcracker (Dec. 6-29), PNC Presents ​Beauty and the Beast (Feb. 14-23), ​Here & Now at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (March 20-29) and ​Balanchine & Tchaikovsky with the PBT Orchestra (April 17-19) as well as exciting repertoire to be performed on tour on prestigious national stages including the Chautauqua Institution, Northrop at University of Minnesota and others soon to be announced.

PBT School’s Spring Performances Blend Old and New

After the curtain comes down on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2018-19 season, a new one rises to showcase the talented dancers of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School for the School’s annual Pre-professional Showcase and Spring Performance. On May 17-19, PBT School’s Pre-professional students perform in Point Park University’s George Howland White Performance Studio, and from May 24-25, students from the pre-ballet division up share the Byham Theater stage in the culmination of a year’s worth of training.

A stunning production of classical and neoclassical work lies in store, complete with a few new surprises. Audiences can look forward to a diverse repertoire, including choreography from company dancers Yoskiaki Nakano and Jessica McCann, says graduate student Jack Hawn.

“We’re doing Raymonda,” Hawn said, “which is purely classical. And then Yoshi is choreographing his pieces more neoclassical, still with the structure in classical music. And then Jess’ choreography is very contemporary, very experimental movement.”

For the first time, a hip-hop piece, choreographed by PBT faculty Gino Vaccaro, will be including in the Pre-professional Showcase.

“It’s exciting that as the school we get to experience that kind of program.”

Students performing Vaccaro’s hip-hop dance.
Photo: Nicole Sauter

Hawn will be performing the lead role in Raymonda opposite fellow Graduate student Allison Durand, bookending both of their student careers before joining the PBT company in the 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020.

“So much of this year for us is revolved around auditions and stressing about where we are going be next year,” Durand said. “And so I’ve always just been looking forward to the day of the Showcase because I just knew I’m going to know what’s happening next year. I’m going to be able to breathe.”

Allie Durand rehearsing “Divertimento No. 15.” Balanchine choreography © The George Balanchine Trust
Photo: Nicole Sauter

Durand, Hawn and the rest of the Graduate students will be performing in both the Pre-professional Showcase and the Spring Performance. The Spring Performance will feature over 200 students from preparatory ballet through the Graduate Level. Students will get to perform a wide range of choreography, from Balanchine to Petipa and works by PBT School Faculty.

Dancers from the student division – pre-ballet through Level V – will all take the stage together for a tremendous performance of “Carnival of the Animals,” choreographed by Student Division Principal Eun Young Ahn set to the humorous musical suite by famed French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

Brining such diverse choreography and such a wide range of experience to the stage is no easy feat. It’s the mark of hard work of students and faculty that sets the Spring shows apart and makes the Pre-professional Showcase and the Spring Performance possible.

“I hope people make it out to see it,” Hawn said. “It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it for many, many months and there are some really talented people dancing in this show and some really talented choreographers and teachers working on it as well. It will be a real treat.”

See PBT School’s Pre-Professional Showcase May 17-19 at Point Park University and don’t miss the Spring Performance May 24-25 at the Byham Theater.

New Dancer Spotlight: Jack Hawn

Jack Hawn, a PBT School student since 2012, has been recruited by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr to join the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre company for its 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020. He’s no stranger to the PBT stage, however. Jack has performed in company productions of The Sleeping BeautyLe Corsaire, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland and, most recently, The Great Gatsby. He’s also a fixture in PBT School studios, providing piano accompaniment for School classes and writing original music for PBT School ballets. Get to know Jack here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Family: “I have a large extended family, three remarkable younger brothers, an endlessly supportive father and step-mother, and my mother, who passed away years ago, but is always with me.”

Pre-performance ritual: “Before a show, I like to listen to music while getting into makeup and costume. Then, I always try and spend a few quiet moments on stage or in the wings before the music starts to enjoy the anticipation and energy that makes performing so thrilling.”

Hobbies: “When comfortable weather comes around, I like to spend as much time as I can hiking and camping. I also like playing music, trying new styles on different instruments.”

Favorite food: “Anything my grandmother cooks. I grew up next door to my grandparents, which was a very impactful part of my childhood. For me, her food means home.”

Favorite musician/song: “It is very hard to choose just one! However, I’m a big fan of Dave Van Ronk, the enigmatic folksinger who ruled Greenwich Village in the ’60s.”

Ultimate dream role: “I would enjoy taking a stab at playing the antagonist – Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet or Espada in Don Quixote.”

Favorite role to date: “Portraying Lord Montague in Derek Deane’s Romeo and Juliet is a definite highlight.

Q&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your time in the PBT School Graduate Program? How has it prepared you for a professional position?

“The Graduate Program has offered me the opportunity to develop a solid technical foundation and an individual artistic voice, while gaining an understanding of the demands of dancing in the corps de ballet.”

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

“I cannot recall an exact moment, just a desire for as long as I can remember.”

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

“I recognize how lucky I am to be in my position. I aim to remember that and enjoy the process and the hard work each day.”

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

“Ballet is hard work and places hurdles often. Overcoming those obstacles and going on stage, where all that work becomes justified, brings me a great sense of satisfaction and joy.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“I am looking forward to doing what I love, at a company that I love, with friends and colleagues that I love, in a city that I love.”

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

“A musician or composer. I’ve been able to work as an accompanist for ballet classes here at PBT for several years, and was lucky enough to compose original music for two ballets that were performed by PBT School.”

Casting for The Sleeping Beauty Has Arrived

Casting for The Sleeping Beauty has been announced! Three thrilling couples will take on the roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré, and their cast of fairy-tale friends and foes will be performed by the talented dancers of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

Fri., May 10, 8 p.m. Sat., May 11, 2 p.m. Sat., May 11, 8 p.m. Sun., May 12, 2 p.m.
Princess Aurora Amanda Cochrane Hannah Carter Alexandra Kochis Amanda Cochrane
Prince Désiré Yoshiaki Nakano Alejandro Diaz Luca Sbrizzi Yoshiaki Nakano
Carabosse Eun Young Ahn Corey Bourbonniere Cooper Verona Eun Young Ahn
Lilac Fairy Hannah Carter Marisa Grywalski Marisa Grywalski Hannah Carter

The Sleeping Beauty with the PBT Orchestra runs May 10-12 at the Benedum Center. Get tickets and view the full cast list here.

Explore The Sleeping Beauty

Story Ballets: The Sleeping Beauty

Inspiration for a ballet can come from anywhere, but some of history’s most beloved ballets are inspired by stories. Fairy-tales, classic fables, dramas and tragedies have spurred some of the most magnificent productions, leaping from the page to the stage. Once such classic is The Sleeping Beauty, which will close Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2018-2019 season with the PBT Orchestra.

The story of Sleeping Beauty dates back hundreds of years to an oral history that originated in France in the 1500s, weaving the tale of a princess, cursed into a deep sleep. The fairy-tale we know and love today was published in 1697 as The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault, and then famously adapted by the Grimm brothers, omitting the darker elements of the story.

While early versions of The Sleeping Beauty ballet based on Perrault’s text were performed as long ago as the 17th century, it’s the collaborative efforts of director Ivan Vsevolozhsky, choreography Marius Petipa and composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky that modern audiences know best. The trio teamed up in 1890 for a showcase of their collective talents.

In its first iteration, Vsevolozhsky, Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty was roughly four hours long, making it one of the most lengthy story ballets in history. Since then, adjustments were made to reduce the run-time and even further engage audiences. PBT’s first performance of The Sleeping Beauty opened at the Benedum Center in 1979, and 40 years later we bring Princess Aurora and her friends back to the stage once again.

The Sleeping Beauty is a classic story ballet for good reason. It’s a tour de force of Petipa’s classical choreography full of your favorite fairy-tale characters, like Princess Aurora, her prince, the fairies and forest friends. Hear the fullness of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score played live by the PBT Orchestra and step into the storybook in one of history’s most beloved story ballets.

See the magic in action May 10-12 at the Benedum Center. 

New Dancer Alert: Four New Company Members Signed for 2019-2020 Season

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

PBT School graduate students Allison Durand, of Charleston, South Carolina, and Jack Hawn, of Detroit, Michigan, will both join the company as apprentices for the 2019-2020 Season. Two students of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Grace Rookstool, of Whidbey Island, Washington and Sam DerGregorian, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will also join PBT as apprentices.

Durand and Hawn will make their final performances as students in the school’s two year-end performances: Pre-Professional Showcases, May 17-20, at Point Park University, and Spring Performance 2019, May 24-25, at the Byham Theater.

In other roster changes for the 2019-2020 Season, dancers Marisa Grywalski, of Columbus, Ohio, and Corey Bourbonniere of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, were promoted to soloists. 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 Dancers

Sam Dergregorian

Sam DerGregorian is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He started dancing at age 9 with La Mesa Dance Academy, and at age 16 he was a member of the New Mexico Ballet Company. While at NMBC, he performed in productions including “The Nutcracker” and “The Wizard of Oz.” He attended summer courses at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Ballet Chicago, Miami City Ballet School and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. He was invited to join the PNBS Professional Division, where he trained for two years. While at PNB he performed with the company, including productions of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “The Sleeping Beauty.” With the school, he performed in productions including original works, Jerome Robbins’ “Fanfare,” “Pinocchio” and “Snow White.”

Allison Durand

Allison Durand, originally from Charleston, South Carolina, has trained in PBT’s Graduate Program and Intensive Summer Programs since 2016. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she studied with Michael and Olga Wise of Robert Ivey Ballet Academy; Charleston County School of the Arts; Amanda Neikirk; and Carroll Thompson. She also attended the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive. She has performed in “Giselle,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Romeo and Juliet,” George Balanchine’s “Rubies,” “The Great Gatsby” and “The Nutcracker” with PBT, and has choreographed numerous works on fellow students during her time in the grad program.

Jack Hawn

Jack Hawn received his early training near his hometown of Detroit, Michigan before joining the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School in 2012. Since then, he has performed in PBT productions such as “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Le Corsaire,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Nutcracker,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Great Gatsby.” Additionally, Jack has composed original music for two PBT School ballets: “Dovetail” and “Gust.”

 
 

Grace Rookstool

Grace Rookstool was born and raised on Whidbey Island, Washington. Her love of ballet began watching her older sisters dance at local studios on the island. She joined them at age 3, and began her classical ballet training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle when she was 8 years old. She spent the next eight years in the Student Division and another two years completing the Professional Division Program. She has had the opportunity to dance with the company in many productions, including “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” During her time in the PD Division, she was selected for an exchange program with Dresden Semperoper Ballett where she performed as a guest apprentice in “La Bayadère.”

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Promotes Two Dancers to Soloist for the 2019-2020 Season

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has promoted two corps de ballet dancers to the rank of soloist for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season, which runs from October 2019 to May 2020.

Dancers Marisa Grywalski of Columbus, Ohio and Corey Bourbonniere of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, will begin their first mainstage season as soloists this fall with PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season opener “Giselle,” on stage Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center.

About PBT’s Newest Soloists

Marisa Grywalski
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Marisa Grywalski joined PBT in 2014 from the PBT School Graduate Program, where she trained for three years. Grywalski also received training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Houston Ballet Academy. Her repertoire includes Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, La Bayadère, Giselle and Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker, as well as featured roles in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert; William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat, Elevated; and Dwight Rhoden’s Ave Maria. Marisa was named one of Pointe Magazine’s Stars of the Corps in 2015.

 

 

 

Corey Bourbonniere
Corey Bourbonniere, a native of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2012. Before joining the company, Bourbonniere trained with the State Ballet of Rhode Island and Heritage Ballet in Rhode Island, as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School Graduate Program. He also attended summer programs at the American Academy of Dance and Texas Ballet Theater. Among his many PBT performances, Corey’s favorites include Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, as well as featured roles as a Stomper in Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room, the Third Sailor in Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Bernardo in Robbins’ West Side Story Suite and Drosselmeyer in Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker.

 

5 Things To Know About Dance Theatre of Harlem

When Dance Theatre of Harlem teamed up with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for a run of sold-out performances in 2017, audiences called for an encore. DTH returns to Pittsburgh to celebrate diversity, collaboration and education for two weeks of performances and programs. Here are five things you need to know about the past, present and future of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

  • It has its roots in civil rights. Dance Theatre of Harlem was formed in 1968, at the height of the civil rights movement, by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. The inspiration to start the school, and eventually the company, is said to have been sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dance Theatre of Harlem’s early days were housed in an old garage, doors wide open for passersby to see inside.
  • Co-Founder Arthur Mitchell made history himself. In 1955, he became the first black principal dancer at New York City Ballet. He was the protege of famed choreographer George Balanchine, who created a pas de deux for Mitchell in which he was partnered with a white woman. “This was 1957,” Mitchell told the LA times in 2010, “before civil rights… The skin colors were part of the choreography. He saw what was going to happen in the world and put it on stage.”
  • DTH made sure dance was for everyone… From the very beginning, a founding tennant of Dance Theatre of Harlem was its inclusivity. Opening the school, Mitchell and Shook created a space for dancers of every color and background to express themselves freely. Dress codes were relaxed to encourage students who might feel uncomfortable in traditional ballet school attire to enroll. The result was a lasting impact on the dance world.
  • …and still does. Dance Theatre of Harlem has become a beacon of inclusion, innovation and moving art. The diversity championed by Mitchell and dancer Virginia Johnson – now DTH’s artistic director – built a company on which a cohesive identity was bolstered by the individual energy of each dancer. It’s shattered the idea of the cookie cutter dancer and showcases a diverse company in an art form that was once thought to be for only specific body types.
  • PBT + DTH is back! After an exciting partnership in 2017, Dance Theatre of Harlem returns to Pittsburgh to share the stage with PBT at the August Wilson Cultural Center once again. A cumulative century of dance experience unites these two companies as they perform together in Stanton Welch’s expressive Orange and reach into their respective repertoire for repertory signatures.

Because of Arthur Mitchell’s drive and the continued work of artists like Virginia Johnson, Dance Theatre of Harlem remains a beacon for the ballet world. PBT is thrilled to partner with such a renowned company once again. Join us at the August Wilson Cultural Center from March 15-24 as we celebrate the incredible work, moving art and collaboration of Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Announcing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr is proud to announce the company’s 50th Anniversary Season lineup, featuring a mixed-repertory production of Pittsburgh talent at the August Wilson Cultural Center and a celebration of George Balanchine and P.I. Tchaikovsky in honor of PBT’s milestone season.

The five-ballet season runs October 2019 through April 2020 and includes: “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra;” “The Nutcracker;” “Beauty and the Beast;” “Here & Now” featuring choreography by Kyle Abraham, Dwight Rhoden and artist in residence Staycee Pearl; and “Balanchine & Tchaikovsky” with the PBT Orchestra to celebrate PBT’s landmark 50th Anniversary Season.

PBT will begin its 50th Anniversary Celebration on July 13 with a performance at Chautauqua Institution with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra featuring vignettes of The Sleeping Beauty, set to P.I. Tchaikovsky’s stunning score.

Subscriptions start at $81 and are on sale now at www.pbt.org or 412-454-9107. Season ticket packages feature 20 percent savings over single tickets and a variety of subscriber benefits. Single ticket sales will open Aug. 6, at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666.

 

50th ANNIVERSARY SEASON LINEUP — 2019-2020

“Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra
Oct. 25-27, 2019 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot | Music: Adolphe Adam

Hope, heartache and betrayal cast their haze on one of the most breathtaking ballets of the Romantic period in “Giselle” with the PBT Orchestra. A village girl is doomed by a lover’s deceit to a ghostly sisterhood of spurned maidens intent on revenge in what Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls a “bewitching and beguiling dance with death.” Audiences will lose themselves among the mist and supernatural beauty of the fascinating scenery, story and score by Adolphe Adam.

 

“The Nutcracker”
Dec. 6-29, 2019 — Benedum Center
Choreography & Concept: Terrence S. Orr | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

The magic of “The Nutcracker” comes to life on the Benedum Center stage! Beneath the Stahlbaum’s Christmas tree, a battle between the gallant Nutcracker prince and the ruthless Rat King unfolds, ensnaring the young Marie and sending her on an adventure through the Land of Enchantment. Stunning scenes, sparkling snowflakes and Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score make “The Nutcracker” Pittsburgh’s favorite holiday tradition.        


PNC Presents “Beauty and the Beast”
Feb. 14-23, 2020 — Benedum Center
Choreography: Lew Christensen | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky

Beauty comes from within. So does the nature of the Beast. See both sides of the story in “Beauty and the Beast.” The classic tale weaves a tender love story between the gnarled trees of the enchanted forest. Audiences are offered a glimpse at unexpected romance, heartbreak and the power of love through striking scenery and stunning neoclassical choreography.

 

“Here & Now” ft. Kyle Abraham, Staycee Pearl & Dwight Rhoden
March 20-29, 2020 — August Wilson Center
In partnership with the August Wilson Cultural Center
Choreography & Music: Mixed Repertory

This mixed-repertory production brings together three celebrated choreographers to create stunning dance for the here and now in the August Wilson 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.” Staycee Pearl, local choreographer, will create a brand new ballet for the program. And the beloved popular music of Paul Simon sets the stage for Dwight Rhoden’s physical and visceral “Simon Said.”


“Balanchine & Tchaikovsky: A 50th Anniversary Celebration” with the PBT Orchestra
April 17-19, 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 Brilliante” and the consummate “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” set to the classic music of Swan Lake. This special 50th Anniversary event also features “Diamonds,” the brilliant third movement of Balanchine’s “Jewels.”

The Great Gatsby: Page, Stage and Screen

The Great Gatsby is one of the most well-known, distinguished American novels. Published in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story chronicles a sweltering New York summer through the eyes of Nick Carraway. Nick relates the story of how he was absorbed into the social strata of the wealthy in the roaring 1920s under the wing of Jay Gatsby, his mysterious, extravagant neighbor. Gatsby holds lavish parties to win back the love of his youth. His love and obsession, the married Daisy Buchanan, is the final bridge to build for Gatsby to live the American Dream.

The Great Gatsby is, at its core, a story about reinvention through capitalism, the American Dream and unrequited love. Fitzgerald hides this all under the guise of a decadent tale of love and betrayal. With a story so timeless and characters so mystifying, it’s no wonder the novel has inspired readers for decades.

The delicacies of the story remain an integral part of American popular culture. And nothing shows that more than the various incarnations of the novel since its publication. Gatsby has made his way to the big and small screens, including the 1974 film directed by Jack Clayton starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Sam Waterston, and the 2013 Baz Luhrmann adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. Both films brought to life the tension and the righteousness of the 1920s with exquisite visuals and biting energy. A 2000 TV movie also captured the spirit of the novel, with music composition by Emmy nominee Carl Davis, who created the original score for PBT’s newest balletic rendition of the novel.

The Great Gatsby has been incarnated as a ballet for decades. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has performed interpretations of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel since the late 1980s, beginning with Andre Prokovsky’s choreography in 1987. This production of The Great Gatsby marked PBT’s first performance in the newly-renovated Benedum Center.

Bruce Wells choreographed a version performed by PBT in 1996, and in 2008, the production was given a reinvigorated style with a new rendition featuring choreography by Lauri Stallings and John McFall. In total, PBT as performed The Great Gatsby four times. Nearly 10 years since the last time audiences accepted their invitation to Gatsby’s soiree, PBT is partnering with Jorden Morris and Carl Davis for a sweeping, cinematic adaptation and a world premiere at the Benedum Center.

Jorden Morris’ fascinating interpretation of The Great Gatsby offers an opportunity to reflect on the ways Gatsby’s story has been told through ballet at PBT and through other companies around the world. The Northern Ballet, California Ballet, Washington Ballet and Hong Kong Ballet have each told the story of Gatsby’s rise and fall, each with a different life and energy unique to the understanding of Fitzgerald’s text.

Jorden Morris’ production of The Great Gatsby comes at a fascinating time. It was 10 years ago that we brought The Great Gatsby back into the limelight, complete with ‘20s flair, flapper dresses and boisterous music. With this latest iteration, the production takes on a completely new verve with lively dance, jazzy tunes and cinematic set pieces. We’re escaping to a time of glamour that veils a desire to live as mysteriously as Gatsby himself. Join us!

 

See PBT’s brand new production of The Great Gatsby on stage with the PBT Orchestra Feb. 8-17, at the Benedum Center. Get your tickets here.