Your Guide to Creating a Whimsical Look for Fractured Fairy Tales
Creating the perfect look for an occasion – whether it’s onstage at a ballet or for a party – is a crucial part of any event. Below are some tips on how to create a fairytale look, a take on the Ballet Core style that is popular today. This look is very elegant and traditional, with a bit of whimsy.
Kristin McLain, Costume Director at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, shared some ideas for how to translate the elements of fairytale ballet costumes into your own look for special occasions. According to McLain, “whether you go full costume or just sprinkle in a few elements, it’s easy to give any outfit a fairytale touch.”
- Incorporate historical elements into your outfit. In dresses, this could be corseted or more structured bodices, full skirts or adding a petticoat to make a skirt fuller. Also, look for dresses with trains or bustles, and add ruffles around the bust or cuffs. For a suit or other menswear, a blousy fabric will give an immediate historical look, as well as a higher collar, ruffles, and fuller sleeves. Additionally, jackets and vests that fit close to the body will have a formal, regal look. And for any piece, the more trim and appliques the better.
- Accessories! Costume jewelry, especially with jewels, will add a nice touch. Stacked necklaces, dangly earrings and even hair accessories will make a strong statement. Menswear should stay away from ties and try a ruffled scarf knotted at the neck. Gloves, capes or capelets and hats also work if you really want to go all out.
- True historical footwear is going to be character shoes or boots. Anything close-toed will give more of a fairy tale impression. A jewel or brooch on the tops of the shoes can be a nice touch. Patterned tights can also be fun.
- Hair can be simple or elaborate, depending on your look. Braids either loose or in an updo are a staple for a more girlish or everyday look–try braiding a ribbon through. For formal hairstyles, updos and curls all over, as well as barrettes, tiaras, or jewels. Men’s hair would be combed away from the face, and facial hair or sideburns could be accentuated or drawn on with makeup.
Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
This costume is from PBT’s production of The Sleeping Beauty in 2023. It is a classical tutu and bodice made from white brocade and embellished with silver applique, beading, and jewels. And of course, every princess needs her jewelry and crown!
Artist: Joanna Schmidt; Photographer: Duane Rieder
Belle in Beauty and the Beast
Here is Beauty from PBT’s production of Beauty and the Beast, last performed in 2020. This is a romantic tutu that includes layers of tulle under the purple skirt. These details are a combination of fabric embellishment with hand-painted gold highlights. Of course, she’s wearing her tiara, and the arm puffs–while not strictly historical–are a common accessory in many ballets.
Artist: Marisa Grywalski; Photographer: Duane Rieder
Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty
This is the costume for Carabosse from PBT’s 2018 production of The Sleeping Beauty. Carabosse is also known as Maleficent in books and movies. The costume is a severe, yet elegant, black gown with a scoop neckline and plenty of sparkle and jewels. A wicked, spiky crown completes the ensemble.
Artist: Eun Yung Ahn : Photographer: Rich Sofranko
The Beast as the Prince in Beauty and the Beast
In Beauty and The Beast, we watch as a monster turns into a prince. Here is the wedding jacket that the Prince wears after he’s transformed. This is a vest and sleeves made of orange silk and embellished with intricate beading on the chest and around the waist.
Artist: Alejandro Diaz; Photographer: Rich Sofranko
Alice in Wonderland
The costumes in Alice in Wonderland help tell the story that this is a place of madness. The Mad Hatter has a suit jacket made of velvet, hand-sewn checkered spandex pants, a brocade vest and a silk tie–many patterns and fabrics all together! Many of the other characters in the ballet have clashing patterns and colors. However, Alice is always in her innocent blue dress.
Artists of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; Photographer: Rich Sofranko
Cinderella’s Ballgown from Cinderella
Cinderella’s costume is a delicate, dusty pink brocade with a pink tulle skirt. Everything about this dress is light, airy, and sweet. What better dress to wear to a ball!
Artist: Alexis Kochas; Photographer: Duane Rieder
The Best of Amanda Cochrane | Announcing the Principal Dancer’s Retirement
Amanda Cochrane, principal dancer at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, announced her retirement on Feb. 27, 2023. Amanda has danced with PBT for 14 years. Due to an ankle injury, Cochrane was not able to give a final performance. She joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2009, advanced to soloist in 2012 and to principal in 2014. In 2013, Amanda was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”. We talked to Amanda about her career, love of ballet and future plans.
Why did you choose to begin ballet?
I started ballet classes very early on in my life, so I have been a dancer for as long as I can remember. My parents could see how much I loved to dance and when I became old enough, they began sending me to summer ballet programs around the country to expand my knowledge of the ballet world. I was captivated by the artistry, athleticism and challenges that were presented to me at home and abroad. I continued my ballet training in Washington and focused on my high school studies while simultaneously attending college. After two years training with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program, I happily accepted a contract as a professional in the company. Ever since, I have been in disbelief that I could have been so fortunate to have this amazing career.
What is your favorite dance step?
If I had to pick, I would say a saut de chat or any type of traveling jump. I love the feeling of flying through space. I would travel as much as I could in the steps leading up to a saut de chat to gain the maximum momentum to launch myself across the studio. It was an invigorating sense of freedom. It was especially exhilarating when I had a dance partner to toss me into the air.
What is your favorite ballet you danced in?
I have so many favorites. They are each special to me in a unique way. Swan Lake was a ballet I grew up watching and imagining myself dancing one day. It was a truly epic moment for me when I was given the opportunity to perform the dual role of Odette/Odile. I cried quiet tears of joy at the start of my first black swan rehearsal. Sharing the room with women who had inspired me since my beginnings at PBT while rehearsing a variation I had always dreamed of dancing was overwhelming. I loved performing this role because of the depth and range of the two characters you portray, as well as the challenging choreography that is displayed. My three favorite moments to perform in this ballet were the serre devant at the end the white swan adagio, signifying her heartbeat when she falls in love with Prince Siegfried. The coda of black swan pas de deux, during Odile’s backwards hops in arabesque after she has Prince Siegfried wrapped around her little finger. And the heart-wrenching moment that Odette decides to end the tyranny of Rothbart by jumping off a cliff. I must add, the satisfying feeling of falling onto a mattress at the end of a show is something I’ll never forget!
What was your favorite role?
It is again hard to choose, but for now I will tell you about Giselle. For me, one of the best parts of rehearsing Giselle was being coached by Marianna Tcherkassky. She was an iconic Giselle and had so much knowledge to pass onto me. Having such an amazing role model made the experience so special. The story of Giselle highlights the consequences of betrayal and the lengths we will go to for love. The character, Giselle, had a vast capacity for forgiveness and protects a man that has broken her heart to the point of death. It was one of the most emotional stories I have had the privilege of performing. I loved the opening playful dialogue between her and Albrecht. It was so pure and innocent. The portrayal of falling into madness at the end of act one was a truly interesting part of Giselle’s character and one that took many hours of contemplation, coaching and rehearsal. I also loved the challenge of acting like a Wili in act two. Appearing like you’re floating across a stage brings a whole new approach to the way you dance. The ending of Giselle, as she floats down into her grave, chokes me up every time.
What ballet did you not have the opportunity to dance in, but wish you had?
George Balanchine’s Diamonds. I had the opportunity to briefly rehearse this beautiful ballet back in the fall of 2019, but unfortunately was never able to perform it onstage due to the Covid-19 shut down in the spring of 2020. My favorite part of rehearsing Diamonds was the solo in one of the scherzos. It was so musical, and you got to travel and take up all the space in the room.
What will you miss most about PBT?
I will miss all the incredible people I have met and learned from along the way. I will miss being a part of the creativity that happens in these studios. I will miss telling all the love stories and fairytales to Pittsburgh audiences. This retirement is very bittersweet for me and one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I wish my ankle had recovered to a state in which I could continue to be a successful ballerina, however, it is now time for me to move onward to a new stage in my life.
What is your favorite PBT memory?
The many post-performance hugs, celebrations and congratulations between friends and colleagues. There is something so special about a group of people supporting and celebrating each other after weeks of hard work.
What are your favorite non-dance hobbies?
I love outdoor activities. I often go hiking with my husband and Hazelnut, our dog. We love the serenity and beauty of nature. During the summer months we like to go paddle boarding and have even started taking our dog onboard! When I’m not off adventuring, I enjoy curling up by the fire with a good book.
What are your plans for the future?
My husband and I are relocating to my hometown in Washington. We are so excited to be closer to our families and may even start one of our own. We will miss the amazing city of Pittsburgh and all our friends. We are so grateful for all the memories!
Photography: Rich Sofranko
Come Dance With Us | Announcing the 2023-2024 Season
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) is proud to announce the company’s exciting 2023-2024 season lineup, featuring three full-length story ballets and two mixed repertory programs. The season includes works from internationally acclaimed choreographers, family-friendly favorites and pieces to be selected by new artistic director Adam W. McKinney. This will be McKinney’s first opportunity to leave his imprint on the repertoire of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
The five-ballet season runs October 2023 through May 2024 and includes: Light in the Dark, The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, Spring Mix with the PBT Orchestra and Cinderella with the PBT Orchestra.
“This season is really one of celebration here at PBT. This year we are bringing old and new audience favorites, including Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, as well as Helen Pickett’s glorious Petal, and one of Geroge Balanchine’s most iconic works, Allegro Brilliante,” said PBT Acting Executive Director Kathryn Gigler. “We also look forward to presenting a world premiere by Jennifer Archibaldin partnership with Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh. We’re excited to invite all of Pittsburgh to come dance with us!”
2023-2024 PBT SEASON LINEUP
LIGHT IN THE DARK
OCTOBER 27 – 29, 2023 | BYHAM THEATER
Choreography: Jennifer Archibald, Sasha Janes and Anabelle Lopez Ochoa | Music: Samuel Barber, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
PBT’s season opener tells powerful stories of tragedy, hope and human connection. The program’s central work, a world premiere by Jennifer Archibald, celebrates the life of Florence Waren, a Jewish dancer who lived in Paris and bravely worked with the French Resistance during World War II. The haunting choreography emphasizes her harrowing experience during this period in history. Completing this program are two incredibly gorgeous ballets showcasing stunning movement and emotional depths. Loss from Sasha Janes is a heartbreaking portrayal of a couple grappling with the death of a child. Lacrimosa by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is a poignant ballet inspired by religious artwork.
The world premiere by Jennifer Archibald is presented in partnership with Violins of Hope Greater Pittsburgh.
DECEMBER 8 – 28, 2023 | BENEDUM CENTER
Choreography & Staging: Terrence S. Orr | Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky
Celebrate the most delightful time of year with one of Pittsburgh’s most cherished holiday traditions – The Nutcracker! Join Marie, her Nutcracker prince and hundreds of fascinating characters for an unforgettable adventure through the Land of Enchantment. Revel in the stunning scenes, spectacular costumes, sparkling snowflakes and instantly recognizable Tchaikovsky score. The Nutcracker will sweep you into the most magical time of the year.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
FEBRUARY 16 – 25, 2024 | BENEDUM CENTER
Choreography: Lew Christensen I Music: P.I.Tchaikovosky
Experience this timeless romantic tale about the transformative power of love, played out against the backdrop of an enchanted forest full of magical creatures. This full-length classical ballet has gorgeous costumes, magnificent choreography, whimsical characters and sets that come alive. The captivating Beauty and the Beast is sure to delight both the young and the young at heart.
SPRING MIX with the PBT Orchestra
APRIL 5 – 7, 2024 | BENEDUM CENTER
Choreography: George Balanchine, Helen Pickett and choreographers to be announced I Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky, Philip Glass and Thomas Montgomery Newman, and composers to be announced.
PBT’s spring mixed repertory program will feature two pieces selected by Adam W. McKinney in his new role as PBT’s artistic director. Also on stage will be the vibrant colors and high energy of Spring reflected in Helen Pickett’s sparkling Petal. Rounding out the program is the exhilarating piece George Balanchine declared “everything I know about classical ballet in thirteen minutes,” his exuberant and joyous Allegro Brilliante.
CINDERELLA with the PBT Orchestra
MAY 17 – 19, 2024 | BENEDUM CENTER
Will Cinderella dance her way to the royal ball and meet her prince before the clock strikes midnight? Get swept away by this beloved, entrancing rags to romance story. This full-length ballet is a treat for the whole family, brimming with true love, classical choreography, magnificent costumes & sets and – of course – a fairy tale ending that’s just the perfect fit.
2023-2024 subscriptions, available in packages of 5,4 and 3 ballets, start at $82.50 and are on sale now at pbt.org/subscribe or by calling 412-454-9107. Subscribers receive exclusive benefits, including first access to the best seats and 20% savings over single tickets.
Groups purchasing eight or more tickets save up to 50%. More information is available at pbt.org/groups.
Single tickets to individual performances will go on sale at a future date to be announced.
Meet Michael Pink: Dracula Choreographer and Milwaukee Ballet Artistic Director
PBT’s Pittsburgh premiere of Michael Pink’s world-renowned Dracula, will open on Friday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Benedum Center. There are only 4 performances – Feb. 10 through 12 – of this internationally famous and wildly popular dance drama. Tickets can be purchased here.
Pink’s vision of Dracula is truly unlike any other ballet as it combines intense drama, exquisite storytelling, theatrical choreography and seductive sensuality into an enticing and riveting performance. Pink, artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet and choreographer of Dracula, shares some insights into the production.
Q: When did you first create/choreograph this Dracula ballet?
Originally I created it for Northern Ballet in the UK in 1996 to coincide with the centenary publication of Bram Stoker’s novel.
Q: What inspired you to create this version of Dracula?
The novel was the source of inspiration. The creative team: Myself and Christopher Gable, Designer Lez Brotherston and composer Philip Feeney all wanted to stay as true to the book as possible.
Q: How is it different from other versions?
The original score, Gothic setting and theatricality separate it from all other dance versions. The attention to detail and storytelling make it compelling from the first moment to the last.
Q: Why do you think the character of Dracula has such universal appeal?
Dracula has become more of a romantic figure than Bram Stoker created. He has sex-appeal despite his disregard for human life.
Q: How do audiences react to it?
Audiences react with great enthusiasm. Dracula is a bit of a Rock Star!
Q: If you were a character in Dracula, who would you be and why?
I guess it would be big D himself. In creating the production, I felt an instant affinity with the character. His stillness and effortless movement are powerful, perfect for dance.
Watch an Interview with Michael
About Michael Pink
Michael Pink is the longest serving artistic director in Milwaukee Ballet history. Since joining the Company in December of 2002, he established himself as a prominent member of the Milwaukee arts community, demonstrating his commitment to the future of dance through new work, education and collaboration.
His artistic vision for Milwaukee Ballet continues to be exciting and challenging. His long-awaited production of Peter Pan signified a major landmark in the Company’s history and was broadcast nationally by PBS in spring of 2014. His production of Romeo & Juliet has also been broadcast by MPBS. In 2008, the Wisconsin Dance Council presented Pink with the Choreography/Performance Award. In 2014, the Milwaukee Press Club honored him with the Headliner Award for service to the arts. He received the Civic Music Association’s award for Distinguished Citizen – Professional in the Arts in 2015. In 2019 he received the Educational Excellence Award from the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, which recognizes organizational achievement of a nonprofit that exemplifies collaboration in the arts.
Pink is an international choreographer whose theatrical productions of Dracula, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, La Bohème, Don Quixote, Mirror Mirror, Dorian Gray and Beauty and the Beast have been hailed as ‘Classical Ballet for the 21st Century.’ His first professional work, 1914, was nominated for a West End Theatre Award, London.
His early choreographic work won him first place in the Frederick Ashton and the Royal Society of Arts Choreographic Competitions. He has worked as répétiteur for Rudolf Nureyev at the Paris Opera and La Scala Milan. He trained as a classical dancer at The Royal Ballet School and danced with English National Ballet 1975 to 1985.
Pink was the founding director of Ballet Central in London; he also served as associate artistic director of Northern Ballet.
He continues to build strong working relationships with other Milwaukee Arts groups, where his credits include A Christmas Carol, Assassins, Cabaret and Next to Normal for Milwaukee Repertory Theater, as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Matilda for First Stage.
About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has been Pittsburgh’s premier professional ballet company since 1969. Today, PBT is a nationally recognized ballet company of 30 professional dancers, a training institution for over 1,200 students of all ages, and an incubator for education and accessibility programs in classrooms, libraries and community centers throughout the region. The company performs a wide-ranging repertoire of classical ballets, contemporary masterworks and new commissions in more than 50 performances annually at home and on tour.
Casting for Dracula Has Arrived!
PBT will be staging Michael Pink’s world-renowned Dracula for the first time ever in Pittsburgh. The ballet has been viewed and lauded by millions of people worldwide. The powerful choreography and edge-of-your-seat drama in this entrancing production create a provocative and riveting performance. You’ll be enthralled by the exquisite costumes, gothic scenery and dramatic score in this provocative tale of bloodlust and suspense. All of the roles are performed by the talented artists of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.
Dracula will be at the Benedum Center February 10-12, 2023
View Dracula enrichment experiences and the performance schedule here.
Check out interviews with Michael Pink and Soloists Tommie Lin O’Hanlon and Corey Bourbonniere.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Names New Artistic Director
Adam W. McKinney Will Serve as Organization’s Seventh Artistic Director Beginning March 2023
PITTSBURGH, PA (January 18, 2023) – After a comprehensive international search aided by Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA), the Board of Directors of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) announced today the appointment of Adam W. McKinney as artistic director. He will be the company’s seventh artistic director in its rich 54-year-history. McKinney, PBT’s first artistic director of color, will begin his role in March 2023.
“We are thrilled to welcome Adam W. McKinney as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s next artistic director,” said President and Board Chair Mary McKinney Flaherty. ”After an extensive search, expertly led by search committee chairs Dr. Melonie Nance and Rich Beaty and guided by PBT’s historical strengths and established strategic goals, Adam became the clear choice to lead PBT’s next era. We believe Adam will be a transformative artistic director for our organization and leader in our community and throughout the world of ballet.”
McKinney has a diverse and accomplished background in arts leadership across the globe, having served as an arts organization director, tenured professor, choreographer, dancer, educator, and activist. He is a gifted teacher of classical ballet whose expertise lies in creating environments that support the training and development of artists. He will continue in the legacy of his predecessors by centering classical ballet repertoire as well as introducing new contemporary works and choreographers to Pittsburgh audiences. He strongly believes in building community connections and in making dance accessible to everyone.
“I am honored and excited to lead PBT into a new era as its seventh Artistic Director,” said McKinney. “Internally, I most look forward to building upon PBT’s significant ballet legacy by curating meaningful and innovative season programming, working with and mentoring company artists and PBT School students and developing relationships with the PBT staff. Many have prepared PBT and me for this moment, which I do not take lightly. Together we have an extraordinary opportunity to build PBT and Pittsburgh’s arts and culture ecology. Externally, I am moved to meet the people of Pittsburgh. Under my leadership, I will work to develop relationships in and with the broader communities to ensure that all people know that they are welcome and belong at PBT.”
“We are so excited to welcome Adam to PBT,” stated Acting Executive Director Kathryn Gigler. “He brings with him incredible creativity, energy and kindness and his leadership is going to have such a positive impact at PBT and in Pittsburgh.”
McKinney joins the ranks of PBT’s distinguished artistic directors, including founding artistic director Nikolas Petrov; Patricia Wilde who from 1982 to 1996 invigorated the company with the works of contemporary choreographers; Terrence S. Orr, who led the company from 1997 to 2020, elevated its repertoire through artistic vision and creative collaboration; and Susan Jaffe, whose tenure from 2020 to 2022 included launching the Open Air outdoor ballet series and spearheading digital programming, including the award-winning Fireside Nutcracker. McKinney succeeds Jaffe, now artistic director at American Ballet Theatre.
About Adam W. McKinney
Adam W. McKinney has a diverse and accomplished background in arts leadership across the globe, having served as an arts organization director, tenured professor, choreographer, dancer, educator, and activist. McKinney was most recently an Associate Professor of Dance in Ballet with tenure in the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University. There he taught courses in classical ballet, modern dance and choreography. He was the Co-Director/Co-Founder of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization committed to healing through the arts and dialogue. Previously, he was the inaugural Dance Department Chair at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe.
He has danced with some of the world’s preeminent dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Béjart Ballet Lausanne (Switzerland), Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet Company.
McKinney has led dance work with diverse populations across the U.S. and North America, and in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. A leader who is committed to making ballet and dance accessible to all, he served as a U.S. Embassy Culture Connect Envoy to South Africa through the U.S. State Department. McKinney has created community social justice and awareness projects including the interactive Fort Worth Lynching Tour: Honoring the Memory of Mr. Fred Rouse and “The Borders Project” at the Mexico/U.S. and Palestine/Israel borders. He was also honored with the NYU President’s Service Award for his dance work with populations who struggle with heroin addiction.
McKinney was named one of the most influential African Americans in Milwaukee by St. Vincent DePaul. He holds a BFA in Dance Performance with high honors with a focus on classical ballet from Butler University and an MA in Dance Studies with concentrations in Race and Trauma theories from the Gallatin School at New York University.
Meet Ryan Sharp AKA The Nutcracker’s Fritz!
Fritz is Marie Stahlbaum’s pesky younger brother in The Nutcracker. For anyone who has a sibling, there is a familiarity to his relationship with Marie. They love each other, but Fritz is also a master of pushing buttons. One could argue that without Fritz, The Nutcracker story would cease to exist. He is the one who breaks Marie’s beloved Nutcracker and causes her to bandage him and sleep with him under the Christmas Tree. It is also his toy soldiers who fight the mice and set the chain of events in motion that cause the Nutcracker to become a Prince and send him and Marie into a journey to the Land of Enchantment.
This year, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School student Ryan Sharp is one of the dancers who will portray Fritz in The Nutcracker. We asked him a few questions about his thoughts on the role and ballet in general.
Q&A With Ryan
How long have you been dancing with the PBT School?
Since I was four years old.
Have you danced anywhere else? If so, how long?
I have only gone to PBT for the school year. I did go to American Ballet Theatre, the Washington Ballet, and Point Park for virtual summer programs.
Are you from Pittsburgh?
How many times have you danced in The Nutcracker?
This is my fifth time.
What other roles have you performed in The Nutcracker?
I’ve been a party boy, soldier, and carousel.
Which one was your favorite?
I liked being Heinz [party scene boy]. It was a really fun role.
What makes you the most excited about being Fritz?
Working with the company so much and all the different things you have to do on stage.
How much alike are you and Fritz?
Not very much, but I could see myself accidentally hitting someone with a tricycle.
What would your dream Nutcracker role be? Dream overall ballet role?
In The Nutcracker, it would probably be Mctavish [party scene adult]. I have too many choices for the second one.
Do you want to be a professional dancer?
It’s Opening Night for The Nutcracker
The magic of The Nutcracker returns to the Benedum Center stage! Beneath the Stahlbaum’s growing Christmas tree, a battle between the chivalrous Nutcracker prince and the unrelenting Rat King unfolds, captivating the young Marie and sending her on an adventure through the Land of Enchantment. Stunning scenes, glittering snowflakes and Tchaikovsky’s positively charming score make The Nutcracker a classic Pittsburgh holiday tradition.
Choreography & Concept: Terrence S. Orr
Music: P.I. Tchaikovsky
Photos by: Aviana Adams
Nutcracker Family Workshop | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 12:45 p.m.
Join us for a Nutcracker story time, meet the Sheep characters, and do a themed craft with us! Register here!
Artis Q&A | Saturday, Dec. 10 | after the performance
PBT Artists Ariana Chernyshev, Gabrielle Thurlow, William Moore and Jacob Patrick Miller take your questions after the show! No registration needed.
Curtain Up! | Sunday, Dec. 11 | 11 a.m.
Watch the last few minutes of company class on stage, and preview the show with PBT Company Artist Jonathan Breight. No registration needed.
Audio-described Performance | Friday, Dec. 16 and 27 at 2 p.m. (Sensory-friendly Performances), Dec. 18 at 12 p.m.
Live narration of the performance for those with blindness or vision impairment, or for anyone who’d like to listen! No registration necessary.
The Nutcracker Casting Is Announced!
Casting for The Nutcracker has arrived!
It’s the most magical time of the year as Marie and her Nutcracker prince journey to the Land of Enchantment. Along the way, they encounter the Snow Queen and King, The Rat King, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and a whole cast of memorable characters! All of the roles are performed by the talented artists of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.
The Nutcracker returns to the Benedum Center December 9-28, 2022
EXPLORE THE NUTCRACKER
Programs and performance dates: View Nutcracker enrichment experiences and the performance schedule here.
Sensory-friendly: Information on sensory-friendly performances and workshops can be found here.
Guidance for young attendees: Learn about The Nutcracker story and its characters in the Children’s Activity Guide.
Behind the Scenes of The Nutcracker: Costumes Galore!
With five scenes, over 150 unique costumes, more than 1,500 accessories and 21 performances, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker is no small feat. One unique aspect of The Nutcracker is its amazing costumes, which were designed specifically for the beloved holiday tale.
Janet Groom Campbell, who was PBT’s Costumier for more than 48 years, says that organization is key for the myriad of costumes used in The Nutcracker, and much of that preparation occurs even before performances begin.
“I always said that The Nutcracker is our best friend because we can work on it any time during the season because it is always there,” Campbell remarked.
“We pull all the costumes for each performance from storage, organize everything in the costume shop and make sure everything is performance ready. Then, one Saturday in November, we do all the student fittings and have Kathie Sullivan (PBT’s Wardrobe Supervisor) come in to pack and count everything to be transported to the Benedum Center.”
Kristin McLain, current Costume Director at PBT who has been working with the organization since 2016, noted that, “Pretty much all of November is a scramble to get Nutcracker ready.”
McLain described the annual preparation routine for The Nutcracker as very methodical and precise.
“Year after year, we follow the same plan as the year before,” said McLain. “During the summer, we pull each group of costumes from the back storage and carefully look through for repairs.”
According to McLain, typically in early November, they’ll have a costume fitting day for the nearly 150 students who are dancing in The Nutcracker. This is usually a fast-paced, fun day because they get to see all of the kids who will be performing and can make sure that their costumes fit and that they know how to put them on. At the end of November, company casting is released and the costume department can begin fitting the company dancers and graduate students.
“Many of the dancers have worn these costumes in years past; however, we find that we can usually make a few minor adjustments to perfect the fit,” said McLain. “While we don’t usually have difficult alterations, with so many dancers it can add up.”
Campbell explained that, “When building a show like The Nutcracker, you build the costumes in a way that is easy to fit on many different bodies because during the lifespan of a Nutcracker costume, it will be worn by many different body types.”
After alterations are complete, the costumes must be transported to and organized at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.
“When packing, Kathie Sullivan organizes how the crates are packed and where they will go in the theater. Most costumes have at least four accessories,” Campbell explains.
According to McLain, The Nutcracker has the most costumes and dancers that she’s ever worked with and due to the number of people and activity backstage, it MUST stay organized.
“At the theater, Kathie Sullivan and her dressers keep everything in order”, said McLain. “The costumes and dressing areas are located over four floors of the Benedum: the basement dressing rooms, stage level dressing rooms, entry level dressing rooms and rehearsal studios. For a full week before performances, Kathie and her team place costumes, tights, shoes/boots and headpieces into the areas of the corresponding dancers. Between shows, items will return to the wardrobe room for washing and repair and will then be placed back exactly where they belong.”
In addition to the company and graduate student dancers, there are also nearly 150 student dancers involved in the performances. The student costumes include everything from flowers and snowflakes to party children, soldiers, bumblebee, clowns and everything in between.
Although it certainly takes a village to alter, assign and distribute all of the costumes required of The Nutcracker, the effort certainly pays off — the over 150 dazzling, unique costumes bring the magical ballet to life on stage.
Get an up-close look at the details of The Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavaliere and The Nutcracker Prince costumes below.
Don’t miss your chance to experience the magic of The Nutcracker this holiday season, running December 9-28 at the Benedum Center!
Thank you to our sponsors, Highmark, Giant Eagle, Clearview and Federal Credit Union for their support of The Nutcracker.
Remembering Jay Romano
This past weekend, PBT lost Jay Romano, our beloved CFO of over 40 years. Jay left a profound impact on PBT, and his tremendous passion, incredible empathy and terrific positivity will never be forgotten. He was a mentor, a friend and the beating heart of PBT. We are deeply sorry to lose such a wonderful person, and we send our love to Jay’s family and friends at this time.
Thank you Jay, for your inspiration, dedication and your smiles. PBT will always honor your legacy.
As a loyal Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre employee of 40 years, Jay has spent his entire adult life working in a very demanding profession. As chief financial advisor, he has helped lead the organization to increasing levels of service, recognition and support while fulfilling its mission to enrich the cultural growth of the community. He continues to focus his attention on accurate and timely financial reporting and cash flow management which are critical for each department in order to reach the strategic objectives of the organization. Jay provides reliable financial analysis, robust projections research and compelling recommendations to assist the leadership team in making artistic, development and financial decisions to achieve growth projections. Jay served as a board member of the Canon McMillan School District from 1993 through 2009 while serving as past Treasurer and Board President and served on the grant review panel for the PA Partners in the Arts.
PBT will honor Jay in the coming weeks with a Celebration of Life; details for this event will be announced soon.
The Nutcracker Through the Years: Reflections with Ariana Chernyshev
At PBT School, students have the opportunity to perform onstage in PBT’s production of The Nutcracker every season, starting as young as age 8. Students who train in the School over the course of many years are therefore able to perform multiple different roles in the holiday production as they grow.
Ariana Chernyshev, current company apprentice who was trained from Pre-Ballet all the way through the Graduate program at PBT School, reflects on her own journey with PBT’s The Nutcracker that began nearly 14 years ago.
Can you remember your first Nutcracker experience? What role did you dance? Were you excited, nervous, etc.?
My first experience with The Nutcracker was in 2008, and it was absolutely unforgettable! I was the Little Party Girl, which was an honor since only two girls from the youngest age division are selected for this role. There is a good amount of acting and the rehearsal process was very exciting since the other party children were a few years older. My ballet bestie was the Little Party Girl for the other cast, and we would write notes back and forth to each other in the book we colored in onstage. I didn’t feel nervous until I was backstage – this was my first production on a big stage with a professional company and everything seemed larger than life. I was fully enraptured by the sets, costumes, lights and the older dancers having their final moments to practice before the show. After my first entrance, my nerves transformed into pure elation and that first show of The Nutcracker became the memory that I hold in my heart as the moment I knew I would do anything to become a ballerina.
What roles have you danced in The Nutcracker? Which ones have been your favorites and why?
In Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker, I have danced the roles of Little Party Girl, Soldier, Bumblebee, Mouse, Black Sheep, Party Girl, Clown, Young McTavish, Clara Doll, Aviary, Flower, Snowflake and Spanish. Little Girl in the party scene will definitely be a role I always treasure since it was where I truly fell in love with performing, but I also loved getting to shake my stinger at the end of the show as a Bumblebee! Mouse was another one of my all-time favorite roles, as they are quite cheeky. As a young dancer performing child’s roles in The Nutcracker, I always wanted to be a Snowflake. I thought that the older dancers were so beautiful, graceful and powerful, especially with their gorgeous crowns and fluttery tutus. The magic of performing as a Snowflake now is something I don’t take for granted. Also, the camaraderie of the Snowflakes really adds to the enchantment of each performance.
What was your most recent Nutcracker role? How have you changed as a dancer since the first time you took the stage for The Nutcracker?
This past Nutcracker season, I danced as a Snowflake, Flower and understudied for Spanish. Last-minute casting adjustments allowed for me to perform in the Spanish, including an emergency during intermission! The ability to be ready to step in with just a moment’s notice is incredibly useful in the world of the performing arts and it was exciting for me to be able to challenge myself in that way. I’ve come a long way as a dancer from my first Nutcracker, and have gained a lot of crucial performance experience.
How has your experience dancing in The Nutcracker affected your growth as a dancer and performer? Has it prepared you for future performances?
Dancing in The Nutcracker over the past 14 years has led me to fall in love with ballet, expand my artistry and push my body physically. From my very first performance, I knew that ballet was going to be one of my greatest passions in life. The multiple children’s roles I began with were the introduction of my development as an onstage performer. As my roles became more physically strenuous, including the addition of pointe shoes, Nutcracker became a time for me to practice managing the stress on my body. This self-management has proven to be absolutely invaluable in my time as a dancer, especially during PBT’s most recent performances of Swan Lake with the PBT Orchestra. As both a dancer and a performer, The Nutcracker has become a benchmark of my growth and progress.
What is your favorite memory from all of the Nutcracker seasons you’ve taken part in?
Both of my little sisters have danced at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and have performed in the company’s production of The Nutcracker, and my mother (Toma Smith) works with the children for roles in the battle scene and Act II. One of my favorite memories is a performance that we were all a part of!
Don’t miss your chance to experience the magic of The Nutcracker this holiday season, running December 9-28 at the Benedum Center!
[Buy Tickets button: https://pbt.culturaldistrict.org/production/78322/the-nutcracker]
Interested in enrolling your child at PBT School so they can enjoy performance opportunities like this? Click the link below to learn more!
[Learn More button: https://www.pbt.org/pbt-school/join-our-school/]
Thank you to our sponsors, Highmark, Giant Eagle, Clearview Federal Credit Union for their support of The Nutcracker.
How Our Dancers Spent Their Summer
After a long and successful season, PBT Company dancers enjoyed a well-deserved break for the summer months. From performing internationally to spending time with family, read on to learn how some of the dancers spent their time outside of the PBT Studios!
I spent the 5 weeks of ISP as an accompanist for various classes throughout and thoroughly enjoyed being on the other side of ballet class. I always learn a lot from watching eager young students absorb all the new information they are given from teachers. Plus, I like to support dancers from behind the piano when I can since I know firsthand that lush, lively, energetic music can make all the difference when you are working so hard in the studio.
Jessica McCann and Yoshiaki Nakano
Since Yoshi and I got married in 2019, we haven’t been back to Japan since! So it was a huge deal for us to return this summer. We left right after the season ended. Yoshi and his mother host a gala every summer in Osaka, Japan that he himself puts together and organizes. It was the first time in three years since the World Dream Gala was hosted, so it was very exciting and emotional.
Yoshi and I danced Giselle Act ll pas de duex together, along with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s La Pluie duet that we performed with PBT in the spring.
We also had the honor and joy of performing in Tokyo at the New National Theatre of Tokyo for the Gala Ballet Asteras, with live orchestra by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. We danced with stunning Japanese dancers from all over the world who brought their partners to perform for two days, and it was outstanding. Yoshiaki was personally invited, but the majority of the artists had to apply to be accepted to perform in the gala so it was a huge honor. We shared the stage with world class dancers, including a couple from NDT1, dancers from Paris Opera Ballet, principal dancers from Royal Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal Birmingham Ballet, Berlin Ballet and Opera National Bucharest just to name a few.
While we were in Japan we also found time to travel all over the beautiful country and relax a bit. We spent several days traveling around Tokyo, spent quality time with Yoshi’s family in Osaka where his grandmother just turned 101, ate amazing food, and we feel so grateful for the memories made and all the new friends.
We also visited Japanese temples and climbed thousands of steps to get to them! We love going to Onsens (natural hot spring) in Japan so we found a very special one up in the mountains of Kagawa. A gorgeous countryside landscape of green hills, fog and rice fields.
I staged Napoli in PBT School’s Company Experience with Jonathan Breight. I also harvested three different kinds of honey from my bees!
Tommie Lin O’Hanlon
My husband and I welcomed these two bundles of joy into our lives! Everyone meet Pork and Beans, our sweet little Frenchies!!
One of the things I did was choreograph a piece, For Raymond, for the PBT School Graduate program and restaged it on some of the dancers in the Company Experience! I also went home to Florida and took my dog, Tiger, to New Smyrna Beach.
Gabrielle Thurlow and William Moore
Will and I were lucky enough to experience a summer full of travel. We went to Italy to visit Will’s family. We enjoyed lots of pasta, wine and fabulous company. It was great to catch up with them. We also took a trip to Brazil for a wedding! It was a first in this country for both of us, and it was an amazing experience.
Siri Vedel’s Journey in the Intensive Summer Program
Siri Kiilerich Vedel was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and began dancing at the age of 3. She trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and Tivoli Ballet School before she moved across the Atlantic Ocean at fifteen to join the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ high school ballet program, her first experience with the American ballet world. Siri has spent the last several weeks dancing in level 5 of PBT School’s Intensive Summer Program (ISP) and will begin training in the School’s Pre-professional graduate program this September.
Read on to learn how Siri feels she has grown as a dancer and as a person throughout the five weeks of ISP!
What interested you about PBT School’s ISP?
PBT School’s ISP interested me with its variety in classes and impressive group of instructors. This summer was my first American 5-week summer intensive and I was intrigued to experience a summer with PBT, full of exploration and growth. The faculty and other students created an incredibly supportive and positive environment throughout the program, which made the experience so joyful. I found that I easily improved in a place where everyone around me strived to succeed and see others succeed.
What were some of your favorite ISP classes?
My favorite ISP classes were repertoire and partnering/coda class. My level learned “Shades” from La Bayadère for our repertoire class. The hours preparing and polishing our piece for the end-of-program showcase taught us how to work as a group and as individual dancers on stage. The individual coaching during repertoire made the experience feel personal and the group corrections created a feeling of unity, weaving my level together as the weeks went by. In partnering/coda class we worked on the Tchaikovsky coda, which required us to work closely with our partner. It was so much fun to see how our partnering skills progressed and how we all improved on the coda over the course of the class.
How do you feel that you have grown as a dancer since you started ISP?
Since I have started ISP, I feel that my technique, artistry and presentation of myself have improved. The structure of our weekly schedule allows for quick technical improvement and before I knew it, I could do things I was not able to do when I first began the program. The supplementary strength classes, such as Pilates and yoga gave me a solid foundation for my long days of training and prevented me from any injuries. Dancing with a new group of people and faculty pushed me out of my comfort zone and I quickly got more confident in presenting myself and my own way of moving. This skill was an important one, as our schedule with variations classes and repertoire required us to present ourselves on a weekly basis.
What has been your favorite activity outside of the studio?
The excursions outside of our dance classes allowed us to grow closer across all levels and it fostered our collaborative atmosphere. My favorite activity outside of the studio was the Gateway Clipper cruise. It was a great way to celebrate our hard work across the whole program, while also getting the chance to see Pittsburgh from the river. It was an activity we were all looking forward to and it was great to look back and see how far we had come since the beginning of the program. My friendships I have created during this program have been so inspiring and I have loved getting to know all the people in my level both inside and outside of the studio.
What is something that has surprised you about ISP?
Something that surprised me at ISP was the incredibly supportive environment that both the faculty and students have created during the program. Whenever there was something frustrating or difficult in my classes, both my friends and the faculty were ready to assist and help me improve, providing a positive and encouraging atmosphere. The supportive environment at PBT made me feel comfortable to experiment and work hard in all my classes, which pushed me to improve fast and efficiently.
Do you think you will return to PBT next summer? Why or why not?
I would love to do another summer with PBT, as this summer has gifted me with so many new tools for my training. I am also very interested in doing the Company Experience program at PBT because preparing and performing at the ISP showcase was one of the things I enjoyed most about my summer. The ISP has opened my eyes for the many great programs that PBT offers and I am so excited and grateful to elevate my training at PBT in the fall.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to have a professional career with a ballet company. Training at PBT this summer has provided me with further skills to strengthen my technique that I will use in my pursuit of my goals in the future. I have really appreciated the opportunity to train with a school that is so structured and professional, yet also allows for individuality and personal growth. I feel that my summer with PBT has pushed me a step further toward my future professional goals and achievements.
Learn more about PBT School’s Intensive Summer Program and how you can audition for next year’s program below!
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Susan Jaffe Announces Move to American Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Susan Jaffe Announces Move to American Ballet Theatre
Effective December 2022, the Former ABT Principal Dancer Will Return to the NYC Company as Artistic Director
PITTSBURGH, PA (May 9, 2022) – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Susan Jaffe announced this morning that she has been named Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, where she spent more than 30 years of her career. She will begin her new role at ABT in December. PBT remains in an excellent position to further realize the company’s vision and mission.
“What a profound honor it is for me to come back home to lead the artistic helm of American Ballet Theatre,” says Ms. Jaffe. “I have experienced so many iterations of my career at ABT. I was a student, second company member, main company member, teacher in the school, advisor to the chairman and a director of repertoire for this company. However, I wouldn’t have been able to take on this new challenge without everything I accomplished at PBT. It is an outstanding organization.”
“We are grateful for the contributions Susan has made to PBT,”says PBT Board Chair Mary McKinney Flaherty. “I look forward to working with the executive search committee to identify the next artistic director.”
Ms. Jaffe is PBT’s sixth artistic director in the company’s 53-year history. From the organization’s founding in 1969, PBT has evolved into a critically acclaimed company with international reach.
Her tenure featured many artistic achievements, including:
● Choreographing a new Swan Lake that debuted last Friday
● Stewarding PBT’s presence during the COVID-19 pandemic and spearheading
the creation of a robust library of collaborative and innovative digital programs,
including Fireside Nutcracker which won three Telly Awards
● Launching the Open Air: A Series in Celebration of the Performing Arts outdoor
festival in partnership with executive director, Harris Ferris, where she debuted
Bolero, her first original piece of choreography for PBT, which was also
performed at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Sculpture
● Guiding a successful return to the stage with Season Premiere with the PBT
Orchestra in October 2021
● Promoting innovative and classical works by leading choreographers, including a
showcase of five female choreographers at Here + Now in March 2022
● Launching a collaborative program between Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and
Point Park University in which graduate students of PBT School can receive
academic instruction from Point Park and earn a B.F.A. in dance in two years