Mozart in Motion Casting is Here

Mozart in Motion Casting

Casting for Mozart in Motion has arrived! Three stunning, uniquely-different ballets provide the perfect opportunity to see your favorite PBT dancers performing the choreography of two dance legends: George Balachine and Jiří Kylián.

Mozart in Motion with the PBT Orchestra runs Oct. 26 – 28 at the Benedum Center. Get tickets and see the full cast list here.

At Sunday’s performance, principal dancer Julia Erickson will take her final bow with PBT.

Learn more about Divertimento No. 15, Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze.

 

7 Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancers

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

From May through July, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers take a well-deserved break from their full-time rehearsal schedule. For many dancers, summer is a time to travel, soak in the sun, guest perform and teach, rest and recuperate. Here, eight PBT dancers share some snaps of what they’ve been up to on and off the stage.

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Principal Julia Erickson spent several weeks in sunny LA, guest performing with Barak Ballet and posing for stunning dance shots on the side. Photo by: Kat Westerman / Cameras and Dancers

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Corps de Ballet dancer Jessica McCann and Principal Yoshiaki Nakano traveled to Yoshiaki’s native Japan to guest perform in and choreograph for the World Dream Gala, which featured the couple’s new work The Pulse of Our Heart, set to original music with traditional Japanese drums. Photo by: Shin-style

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Corps de ballet dancer Jake Unger found time to soak up some sun in his home state of California.

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Fresh from PBT’s production of Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, corps de ballet dancer Corey Bourbonniere revisited his role as Bernardo in Francesca Zambello’s production of West Side Story at The Glimmerglass Festival in New York. Photo by: Karli Cadel

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Corps de ballet dancer Emily Simpson California dreaming at Zuma Beach.

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
PBT dancers, and newlyweds, Joseph Parr and Diana Yohe made a trip to their home stage of Ohio to guest star as lovers Giselle and Albrecht in City Ballet of Cleveland’s production of Giselle. Photo by: Susan Bestul

 

Summer Dance Photos from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
…And these honeymooners also took in the mountain majesty of Colorado’s El Dorado State Park.

 

 

Pro Tips for a Successful School Year

School-year pointers for the serious ballet student 

From Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School graduate student to company soloist, dancer Gabrielle Thurlow has discovered that hard work and unwavering passion yield high results. As serious ballet students head back to the studio, Thurlow shares her pro tips for maximizing your school year and staying inspired. 

From a PBT School student to a soloist, what skills have you mastered? How have you grown?
Since becoming a soloist, I have learned the importance of grit. I’ve learned that casting should not affect how hard you work. You may not always get the role you hoped, but that does not mean you should give up. There is always going to be someone better than you. But instead of feeling defeated, use that to fuel you. Hard work does pay off, whether that is sooner or later. I’ve always loved ballet class, and I use it every morning to get my body and mind going in the right direction.”  

Looking back on your time as a full-time ballet student, what advice would you give your younger self…or any serious ballet student?
“I would advise a younger student to watch a lot of different dancers. There’s so much you can learn from watching people. You can decide what you like and what you don’t. Try to discover why you like a certain dancer, but maybe not another as much. Then, try to implement what you like on your own technique, while finding a way to make it your own. Remember what you did not find beautiful and try to make sure you don’t form bad habits.”

As a student, what did you do outside of class to maximize your experience?
“As a student, I would seek out lots of corrections, which I still do today. I like to have different people watch my rehearsals because they give different feedback. Also, even if a different person suggests the same thing, they might say it in a different way. It may then “click” better with me. If no one is available to me, I will sometimes record myself. This can often be difficult to watch, as I am usually my own worst critic, but it does help me see things to try to improve.” 

How do you increase your flexibility and strength now as a professional?
“I do a lot of Pilates and cardio work, which I still find very useful today. Pilates works the deep intrinsic muscles in our bodies, which are so important for ballet. It stretches and strengthens at the same time.  It also works your alignment, which I believe helps avoid injuries. Cardio is good for building and maintaining stamina, which is important for various repertoire.”

What were your goals and challenges as a student? What are they now?
“My goal as a student was to become a professional in a ballet company. I was fortunate enough to get hired at PBT.  Now my goal is to continue to improve my artistry and technique. This is a constant battle, because there is always room to grow.  With new roles come new challenges and different steps to work on. I am less comfortable in adagio, so I often find myself working on stability and control.”

As a student, what motivated or inspired you during the school year?
“As a student, the allure of company life was my motivation. I love the art form so much that the thought of making it my career was so inspiring. Getting to that point was a lot of work. I danced full-time as a student and spent my evenings working as a server in a restaurant. However, I never thought of giving up because I had so much passion for it.”  

When you’ve had a tough day, mentally or physically, how do you bounce back?
“Although I do love ballet, it can often be challenging, both physically and mentally. After a particularly tough day, I try to get out of my head and leave the studio behind. I find it helpful to take a long walk with my dog and talk things out with someone I’m close with. For me, it’s important to have someone that supports me, and I’m grateful to have several of those people in my life.” 

What are your dance bag essentials?
 “Toe spacers (corn prevention!), water bottle, snacks, leg warmers and extra pointe shoes.” 

New Dancer Spotlight: Jonathan Breight

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Jonathan Breight

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr recruited Pittsburgh native Jonathan Breight from PBT School’s Pre-professional Division where he’s trained since 2013 — first as a full-time high school student and then as a Graduate student. Breight also has participated in PBT School’s Intensive Summer Program and in Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Program. Breight has performed in PBT productions of West Side Story Suite, PBT: New Works, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Giselle and Beauty and The Beast. He also teaches pre-ballet classes for PBT School’s Children’s Division and assists PBT’s education department with adaptive dance classes for students with special needs. Get to know Jonathan here:

Fun Facts

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Forest Hills

Family: “My Father, Rev. Ronald M. Breight, or “The Good Reverend” as we like to call him, is the Pastor of Christ Lutheran Forest Hills. My Mother, Linda Breight, is a teacher assistant at The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. I have one older and two younger brothers: Miguel, David and Timothy. My older brother, Miguel, is a specialist in the U.S. Army. David attends The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and enjoys competing in the Special Olympics. My youngest brother, Timothy, attends Woodland Hills and loves fishing with Dad…Our dog Bailey adds to the excitement of the house.”

Pre-performance ritual: “Chapstick. Aquaphor: it’s my must-have.”

Hobbies: “I play the hand bells, teach for PBT school, used to perform in Woodland Hills musicals, and can sign ASL.”

Favorite food: “My favorite food is spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and garlic shrimp.”

Favorite musician/song: “It depends on the day… but today I would say anything Phantom of the Opera! Yesterday I would have said Barrette Sisters, but tomorrow might be Rhianna.”

Ultimate dream role: “Performing in William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite.”

Favorite role to date: “King of Hearts in PBT’s Alice in Wonderland.”

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Jonathan BreightQ&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 have grown as an artist during my time in the Grad program by setting and working toward three goals: a personal daily goal, a monthly goal and a year-long goal. While I will continue goal setting, the transition from student to company member will be a large step, because you no longer have a safety net of student learning. You’re held to higher expectations, and the criteria of hard work and dedication is a standard. However, the work ethic and passion to push toward greater learning never stops, only changes, shaped by what we choose to see. The day you lose your pursuit of growing is the day you should stop dancing.”

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

“I was a musical theater and marching band geek who could sing and act, but one of my teachers at the time said I needed to be a triple threat if I wanted to “make it in this business.” I used to hate ballet; in fact I skipped my ballet classes during the summer of 2012 at Point Park. It wasn’t until I came to PBT and found a passion for ballet that I became serious and knew I wanted to pursue this career.”

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

“I would love the opportunity to learn Divertimento No.15. There is a beauty to George Balanchine’s works because of how purely they are preserved through the Balanchine Trust. As a new dancer, you are told to push toward becoming something different, a “standout,” in order to achieve success. However, working within the preservation of the Trust, you learn to give everything you have within the boundaries of Balanchine’s vision. My goal then becomes finding this balance.”

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

“For me there are two parts – personal and professional. Personally, I love dance: classical ballet, neoclassical, contemporary, modern, etc. I love ballet; I love pushing the limits of each style every day and building off of what has been accomplished the day before. Professionally, as a teacher in PBT School, I often hear the kids talking about the company members they idolize and look up to.  I aim to follow those I grew up aspiring to be, pass on the values and work ethic I was given the chance to emulate, and to help guide our younger students towards their own goals and aspirations, as not only young dancers, but the young people they will become. Our Children’s Division Ccoordinator, Kaila Lewis, continues to be my role model in transitioning into the person and teacher I want to become.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“Everyone is going to tease me for this, but I want to say The Nutcracker. There is a real beauty in becoming not only versatile in learning so many different and unique roles, but also in having so many performances as opportunities to grow. The repetition of performing The Nutcracker year after year offers a unique potential, allowing room for artist development in building the different facets of each character.”

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

“If I had not pursued a ballet career, I would have pursued something in the math and sciences. I enjoyed the precision of mathematical calculations and the pursuit of knowledge expansion.”

New Dancer Spotlight: Yu Chieh Chao

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Yu-Chieh Chao

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr recruited Yu-Chieh Chao, of Pintung City, Taiwan, from PBT School’s Pre-professional Division where he’s trained since 2015. Prior to PBT School, Yu-Chieh trained with the Taipei National University of Arts. He has performed in PBT productions of The Nutcracker, PBT: New Works and West Side Story Suite and in PBT School performances of Etudes and the Bluebird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. Get to know Yu-Chieh here: 

Fun Facts

Hometown: Pingtung City, Taiwan

Family: I lived with my parents, my sister, and my grandma at home in Taiwan. I am the only person who dances in the family.

Pre-performance ritual: Taking a deep breath.

Hobbies: Swimming and biking

Favorite food: Chocolate and fruit in general

Favorite musician: Lana Del Rey

Ultimate dream role: Des Grieux from Manon or Albrecht from Giselle

Favorite role to date: Bluebird from The Sleeping Beauty

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Yu-Chieh Chao
Yu-Chieh (second from right) performs alongside PBT company dancers in JoAnna Schmidt’s Lightworks, part of PBT’s March PBT: Premieres program at the August Wilson Center.

Q&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your time in the PBT School Pre-professional Division? 

“I think I have grown as an artist during my years in PBT School by learning from my teachers. The schedule and the training really helped me to build my technique and prepare to be a professional ballet dancer.”

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

“I think it was the first time I saw a ballet video that was one of my favorite dancers, David Hallberg doing the prince in The Sleeping Beauty. All the movement that he did was so powerful and elegant. It made me want to be a dancer as good as him.”

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

“I hope I can become more comfortable performing on stage. For me, I still get nervous when I’m dancing in front of people, and I hope I can get better by getting even more opportunity.”

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

“For me, the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is I get to do the thing I love every day and it be my career.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

Mozart in Motion is what I most looking forward to do next season.”

5 Ways to Maximize Your Ballet Under the Stars Experience

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Ballet Under the Stars sets the stage for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season with a free, al fresco performance on Sun., Aug. 18, at beautiful Hartwood Acres park. Here are 5 ways to maximize your Ballet Under the Stars experience.

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Early birds have the most fun. Soak up some fun in the sun before kicking back for Ballet Under the Stars. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with food trucks and free family fun, including craft and dance activities, photo ops with costumed dancers, a ballerina dress-up station and more!  Plus, spread your blanket, set up your chairs and claim a prime performance spot!

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Eat dinner with the dancers. Mingle with artists before the show at our pre-show Picnic in the Park! Head to the VIP tent for drinks and dinner. Tickets, which cost $60 for adults and $20 for kids, benefit repertory, scholarships and community education programs.

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Or, pack your own picnic. Whether it’s wine and cheese or a full supper spread, Hartwood Acres is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic with your performance experience. If you prefer to travel light, visit one of Hartwood Acre’s featured food trucks and bring a bite back to your blanket.

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Don’t be afraid to dance along. Sit back, relax and let the music move you. The combination of fresh air, open sky and inspiring art never fails to bring audience members to their feet – or get them swaying in their seats!

Ballet Under the Stars - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Plan your next ballet experience. Get a look at the main-stage lineup for PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season, which features classic stories and exciting contemporary masterworks. Then, check your program for your exclusive Ballet Under the Stars promo code, and save 30% on any 2019-2020 Season ballet!

 

Find more Ballet Under the Stars details here!

 

New Dancer Spotlight: Caitlyn Mendicino

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr recruited Pittsburgh native Caitlyn Mendicino from PBT School’s Graduate Program, where she’s trained since 2016. She began ballet classes at PBT at age 4 and continued her training in Pittsburgh with Nicolas Petrov, PBT’s founding artistic director, and Mansur Kamelatdinov in 2007. She continued at the Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh and went on to graduate from North Carolina School of the Arts. She danced as an apprentice with Charlotte Ballet for two years before joining the PBT School Graduate Program. She also has completed summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin and Boston Ballet among others. Mendicino has performed in PBT productions of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, Alice in Wonderland and Giselle. Her repertoire also includes The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, and Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie and The Four Temperaments. Get to know Caitlyn here. 

Fun Facts

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Tell us a little bit about your family: “My parents relocated not too long ago to Ohio, where my dad is a foot and ankle surgeon (very lucky for me). I have one older brother who will be starting his first year of law school in the fall. Besides that, my extended family still lives in Pittsburgh, and they are the best support system anyone could ask for.”

Pre-performance ritual: “If I am able to see into the audience before the show or during it, I always look for my dad. He is easy to spot with his grey hair. Seeing him and family in the audience gives me confidence and calms me down if I’m nervous.”

Hobbies outside dance: “I love photography, crocheting and baking (I make pretty good French Macarons).”

Favorite food: “Either my family’s homemade spaghetti sauce with cavatelli or popcorn.”

Favorite musician/song right now: “Fleetwood Mac is my favorite musical group, but my favorite song would be Norwegian Wood by the Beatles.”

Ultimate dream role: “Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.”

Favorite role to date: “Principal in first movement of George Balanchine’s Western Symphony.”

Six-question Q&A

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

“I think the graduate program has helped me become stronger not only in my ballet technique but also in my performance quality. I have had the opportunity to perform with the company a lot as a grad, which has enabled me to pick up choreography quickly and work on my stage presence. Having the opportunity to work with these professionals has helped me mature as a person, get out of my comfort zone as a dancer, and grow as an artist.”

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

“There is one moment that I would describe as my epiphany. My last year at Charlotte Ballet I was performing The Sleeping Beauty pas de deux in the pre-professional showcase. Patricia McBride coached me on this role, teaching me the importance of giving your entire self when you dance as well as dancing from your heart. In that performance of The Sleeping Beauty I felt what she had taught me. It was such a wonderful experience and reassured me that ballet is what I wanted to do professionally.”

 

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

“I want to work on my stage presence and artistry as a dancer. Those are two things that any dancer can always improve upon and grow throughout their entire careers.”

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

“I would say that the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is the ability to inspire other people through my dancing. I know that when I was little, going to performances of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre inspired me to become a ballet dancer. I love that I could possibly inspire someone like 4-year-old me to pursue their dreams.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“I’m definitely excited for Mozart in Motion, but I am also looking forward to The Sleeping Beauty because it is my favorite classical ballet.”

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

“I think I would be in the medical field, either a nurse or a doctor. I would want to do something that helps people and being in medicine would definitely accomplish this.”

3 Reasons Summer Intensives Are Invaluable

Just when the academic school year winds down, the summer intensive season gears up for serious ballet students.

From late June to mid July, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s annual Intensive Summer Program (ISP) packs over 180 hours of concentrated technique and repertoire classes into five weeks that are as inspirational as they are intensive.

There’s are many reasons over 200 students swap a month of summer relaxation for an Intensive Summer Program spot at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Here are just three ways summer intensives help students become better dancers:

Build momentum.
With school out for the summer, ISP provides a focused environment to concentrate solely on your dancing. You’ve worked hard all year to hone your technique, expand your flexibility and build strength. Summer intensives help you avoid backsliding and start the next academic year at an advantage. In addition to dance classes, ISP integrates Pilates mat classes and access to reformer training and other cross training equipment. Over five immersive weeks at PBT School, you can grow by leaps and bounds as you zoom in on the details that lift your dancing to the next level.

Expose yourself to new faculty and feedback.

In addition to PBT School’s respected roster of faculty members, ISP offers the opportunity to work closely with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and Ballet Mistress Marianna Tcherkassky — both of whom are American Ballet Theatre alums — and guest instructors from other prestigious companies. Students benefit from exposure to different teaching styles, fresh feedback and a wealth of perspectives and experiences from expert instructors with diverse backgrounds.

Meet and mingle with other dancers.

With five weeks away from home, it’s a chance to break out of your comfort zone and network with fellow dancers who share your passion for your career path. Find new friends and fresh inspiration by swapping insights with talented dancers from across the country and around the world. You never know when you’ll next cross paths in the increasingly connected dance world.

Learn more about Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s annual Intensive Summer Program here. For updates on annual audition dates, which run from January through February, sign up for PBT School email updates here.

New Dancer Spotlight: Colin McCaslin

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer - Colin McCaslinArtistic Director Terrence S. Orr recruited Colin McCaslin, of Vineland, New Jersey, from PBT School’s full-time high school program, where he trained for two years. Before joining PBT School, McCaslin trained with the Atlantic City Ballet School under Phyllis Papa and in Miami City Ballet School’s summer intensive. He has performed with PBT in The Nutcracker and West Side Story Suite and with Atlantic City Ballet in Carmen and Swan Lake. His repertoire also includes excerpts from Giselle, La Sylphide, The Sleeping Beauty, Don QuixotePaquita and Western Symphony. Get to know Colin here.

 

Fun Facts

Hometown: Vineland, NJ

Family: “I come from a family of 13, two of whom were adopted from China. My parents are pretty much the most selfless people you’d ever meet; they’ve always done their best to make sure I could do what I loved.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I usually just listen to music and prepare myself mentally.”

Hobbies: “I don’t really have too many hobbies, but hanging out with the people I love and a good cup of coffee are two of my favorite things.”

Favorite food: “Salmon (if done well), but I also love pizza, sausage and sushi.”

Favorite musician: Paul McCartney

Ultimate dream role: Basilio in Don Quixote

Favorite role to date: “I had a lot of fun performing the first movement of Western Symphony, but I also loved performing Paquita (in PBT School’s Pre-professional Showcases 2018).

Six-question Q&A

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer - Colin McCaslinHow do you think you’ve grown during your time in the PBT School Pre-professional Division? How has it prepared you for a professional ballet career?

“I feel that I’ve established a strong foundation as well as been given many challenging opportunities from which I can continue to learn and grow. I think in a lot of ways the many rehearsals throughout the day are not unlike that of a company schedule. The dynamic of the Pre-professional Division really does a great job of preparing dancers for a professional career. I feel I’ve become a lot stronger and more confident having been given so many incredible opportunities.”

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

“I never really had one moment, but every time I go on stage I’m reminded of why and how much I love this art form.”

 

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

“Just to keep on working; everything can always be better.”

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

“I think the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is bowing after a good performance, knowing that you gave it your all.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?

“I’m definitely looking forward to The Great Gatsby.”

If I weren’t a ballet dancer…”I think I’d be an attorney.”

New Dancer Alert: Four New Company Members Signed for 2018-2019 Season

See all four dancers on stage this weekend in Spring Performance 2018, their final performance with PBT School! Snag seats here.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has signed four more dancers to the company roster for the 2018-2019 Season, which opens Oct. 26-28, with Mozart in Motion with the PBT Orchestra.

Orr recruited the following dancers from PBT School’s Pre-professional Division: Jonathan Breight, of Pittsburgh; Colin McCaslin of Vineland, New Jersey; Yu-Chieh Chao of Pingtung, Taiwan; and Caitlyn Mendicino of Pittsburgh. All four dancers will join the company as apprentices.

Earlier this season, Orr announced the hire of PBT School graduate students Christian García Campos, of Puebla, Mexico, and Tommie Kesten, of Pittsburgh, who also will join the company as apprentices for the 2018-2019 Season.

In total, Orr has hired six dancers from PBT School’s Pre-professional Division this year.

“The Pre-professional Division is where dancers begin making the transition from student to professional. At this stage, dancers are honing their performance skills, cultivating their individuality as artists and testing their technique in company repertoire,” Orr said. “It has been a pleasure to work closely with these dancers. They’ve stood out on stage in both student and professional performances, and they’ve proven their passion, not only for their art but for this company.”

PBT School’s Pre-professional Division prepares students for professional ballet careers with an intensive training schedule, extensive performance opportunities and high-quality repertoire. The program also serves as a powerful cultivation and recruiting tool for PBT’s company roster: More than half of PBT’s professional dancers are PBT School alumni.

The four new dancers, along with García Campos and Kesten, will make their final performance as students in the school’s Spring Performance 2018, May 25-26, at the Byham Theater.

Later, they’ll make their professional debuts at PBT’s free Ballet Under the Stars performance at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at Hartwood Acres, followed by Mozart in Motion, the company’s main-stage season opener, Oct. 26-28, at the Benedum Center.

About the New Dancers

Jonathan Breight

Pittsburgh native Jonathan Breight has trained in PBT School’s Pre-professional Division since 2013 first as a full-time high school student and then as a Graduate student. Breight also has participated in PBT School’s Intensive Summer Program and in Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Program. Breight has performed in PBT productions of “West Side Story Suite,” “PBT: New Works,” “Swan Lake,” “The Nutcracker,” “Alice in Wonderland” “Giselle” and “Beauty and The Beast.” He also teaches pre-ballet classes for PBT School’s Children’s Division and assists PBT’s education department with adaptive dance classes for students with special needs. He will perform in excerpts from George Balanchine’s “Western Symphony” and in PBT Principal dancer Yoshiaki Nakano’s “The Symphony” among other works at PBT School’s Spring Performance 2018.

Yu-Chieh Chao

A native of Pingtung, Taiwan, Chao has trained in PBT School’s Pre-professional Division as a full-time high school student since 2015. Prior to PBT School, he trained with the Taipei National University of Arts. Chao has performed in PBT productions of “The Nutcracker,” “PBT: New Works” and “West Side Story Suite” and in PBT School performances of “Etudes” and the Bluebird pas de deux from “The Sleeping Beauty.” He will perform in “Graduation Ball” and excerpts from “Western Symphony” among other works at PBT School’s Spring Performance 2018.

 

Colin McCaslin

Colin McCaslin, of Vineland, New Jersey, has trained for two year’s in PBT School’s Pre-professional Division as a member of the full-time high school program. Before joining PBT School, McCaslin trained with the Atlantic City Ballet School under Phyllis Papa and in Miami City Ballet School’s summer intensive. He has performed with PBT in “The Nutcracker” and “West Side Story Suite” and with Atlantic City Ballet in “Carmen” and “Swan Lake.” His repertoire also includes excerpts from “Giselle,” “La Sylphide,” “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Don Quixote.” McCaslin will perform in “Graduation Ball” as well as excerpts from “Paquita” and “Western Symphony” at PBT School’s Spring Performance 2018.


Caitlyn Mendicino

Pittsburgh native Caitlyn Mendicino has trained in PBT School’s Graduate Program since 2016. She began ballet classes at PBT at age 4 and continued her training in Pittsburgh with Nicolas Petrov, PBT’s founding artistic director, and Mansur Kamelatdinov in 2007. She continued at the Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh and went on to graduate from North Carolina School of the Arts. She danced as an apprentice with Charlotte Ballet for two years before joining the PBT School Graduate Program. She also has completed summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin and Boston Ballet among others. Mendicino has performed in PBT productions of “Swan Lake,” “The Nutcracker,” “Dracula,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Giselle.” Her repertoire also includes “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Le Corsaire,” and Balanchine’s “Valse Fantasie” and “The Four Temperaments.” Mendicino will perform in excerpts from “Swan Lake” and “Western Symphony” at PBT School’s Spring Performance 2018.

Learn about fellow PBT School graduates and incoming company dancers, Christian García  Campos and Tommie Kesten, here.

Photo Gallery: From Ballet Students to Stars

See the next generation of professional dancers, including newly hired company members Christian García Campos and Tommie Kesten, on stage this month in PBT School’s Pre-professional Showcases and Spring Performance 2018.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Pre-professional Division is a training ground for the next generation of aspiring dancers. According to Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr, “The Pre-professional Division is where dancers begin making the transition from student to professional. At this stage, dancers are honing their performance skills, cultivating their individuality as artists and testing their technique in company repertoire.” PBT’s company roster is a testament to this — Orr has recruited more than half of its dancers from the Pre-professional Division. Here, get an exclusive look at our stars while they were still students:

 

Your Guide to PBT School’s Spring Performances

Emerging talents of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will take the stage for two May productions in downtown Pittsburgh, showcasing student dancers from the beginning of their training journey to the cusp of their professional stage careers. Here’s who and what you can expect to see.

Pre-Professional Showcases

When: May 18-20
Where: Point Park University, George Rowland White Performance Studio, 201 Wood Street
Who: PBT School pre-professional students
What: Did you know that more than half of PBT’s company roster were recruited from PBT School’s Pre-professional Division? At these special showcases, you can scout emerging talent and get the first look at newly signed company dancers Tommie Kesten and Christian García Campos. Plus, guess who might be joining the company next (hint: exciting news coming later this week). See aspiring professional dancers perform new works choreographed by PBT School faculty members and PBT Principal dancer Yoshiaki Nakano, along with David Lichine’s one-act Graduation Ball, excerpts from George Balanchine’s Western Symphony and Paquita with choreography after Marius Petipa.
Tickets: $25 at www.pbt.org or 412-454-9107

GET TICKETS

Spring Performance 2018

When: May 25-26
Where: Byham Theater, 101 6th St.
Who: 200+ students of PBT School’s Student and Pre-professional Divisions
What: Experience classical and contemporary works performed by budding ballet dancers to polished pre-professionals. In addition to the Pre-professional Showcase works above, see the training journey come full circle as students in Preparatory Ballet through the Graduate Program take the stage together in a work conceived by PBT School faculty members and inspired by the classical ballet Coppélia.
Tickets: $26-36 at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666

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New Dancer Spotlight: Christian García Campos

New Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer - Christian Garcia CamposArtistic Terrence S. Orr recruited Christian García Campos, of Puebla, Mexico, to the company from the PBT School Graduate Program, where she has trained since 2014 — first as a full-time high school student and then as a Graduate student. She’ll make her official company debut at PBT’s Aug. 19, Ballet Under the Stars performance at Hartwood Acres, followed by the company’s main-stage season opener Mozart in Motion in October. Get to know Christian here.

Fun Facts

Tell us about your…

Hometown: Puebla, Pue., México

Family: “With two surgeons as parents, both my sister and I decided dance was our path. She has a dance studio back home.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I try to relax myself with music, but I definitely cross myself before entering the stage.”

Hobbies: Playing the piano, drawing and writing

Favorite food: Tacos and sushi

Favorite song: “No no no” by Beirut

Ultimate dream role: Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) or Nikiya (La Bayadère)

Favorite role to date: A bride in PBT’s production of Dracula 

New Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer - Christian Garcia CamposQ&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your time in the PBT School Graduate Program?
“I believe that I have matured my dancing, trying to pay more attention to the small but meaningful details, which make the difference. I also think I’ve worked on trying to throw myself out there without worrying about the outcome. That usually does the trick, which hopefully will help throughout next year.”

Describe your ballet “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.
“I don’t think there was an exact moment, but I remember that when I was younger in my home studio, I would love going to rehearsals. My fun on Fridays and Saturdays wouldn’t be about parties, it would be about going to do what I loved the most. Some people wouldn’t understand it, but that’s how I knew I wanted to keep doing this for however long I could.”

What are some of your personal goals for your first season as a company dancer?
“I want to grow as a teammate. I believe the experience that you get as a student might be different from the one you get as a professional dancer with your coworkers. I also want to expand myself and be brave in doing things I’m not used to doing, to not stay in a comfort zone, not to focus too much on certain things so I don’t forget to loosen up a bit.”

What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer? 
“There’s just so much to it. It’s like entering a whole new world that not everybody gets to experience. To be backstage, to witness how magic gets done before a show, and of course being on stage. It’s like escaping reality for a little bit. The lights, the costumes and makeup, how the music completely wraps up my entire focus. I live for those tiny moments that happen in which I indulge completely in the moment, and I couldn’t be more satisfied than that.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?
“Definitely Mozart in Motion; it’s not every day that you get to dance something a little less classical and what better than (these works by George Balanchine and Jiří Kylián). Also I’m very curious about The Great Gatsby. ”

If I weren’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
“A marine biologist. The ocean mesmerizes me and I love animals way too much (haha). It’s always been sort of a dream to work with dolphins.”

New Dancer Spotlight: Get to Know Tommie Kesten

New Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer - Tommie Kesten

Artistic Terrence S. Orr recruited Pittsburgh native Tommie Kesten to the company from the PBT School Graduate Program, where she gained main-stage experience in PBT productions of The NutcrackerSwan Lake, PBT: New Works and West Side Story Suite.  She’ll make her official company debut at PBT’s Aug. 19, Ballet Under the Stars performance at Hartwood Acres, followed by the company’s main-stage season opener Mozart in Motion in October.  Get to know Tommie here.

 

 Fun Facts

Tell us about your…

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Family: “I am named after my oldest brother Tommy, who passed away before I was born. My other brother, Ty, passed away in 2016 while racing his dirt bike. He was only 17 and I was 15. My parents and I started a foundation to honor his life, 1sixfoundation.org. It brings a lot of comfort to make amazing donations in his name. Whenever I am on stage I am always performing for my big brothers in heaven.”

Pre-performance ritual: “I have been dancing since I was 2 years old. My mom would always say “Piece of cake” before I would walk on stage and I would say “Piece of pie” back to her. It just kind of became a ritual and we have stuck to it.”

Hobbies outside dance: “I enjoy riding my bike on trails and finding cute little coffee shops on Sunday mornings. I love playing with my bulldogs and realizing how precious life is; I love family time.”

Favorite food: “I’m kind of addicted to pretty much anything on the menu at DiAnoia’s and I am obsessed with cupcakes.”

Favorite musician right now: Bruno Mars

Ultimate dream role: George Balanchine’s Jewels

Favorite role to date: Western Symphony, (which I performed in PBT School’s Pre-professional Showcases), is my favorite role so far. It has challenged me in so many ways and I had fun in every rehearsal.”

Six-question Q&A

How do you think you’ve grown as an artist during your time in the PBT School Graduate Program?
“I feel I have grown as an artist during my first year at PBT as a grad student because PBT has given me so many performance opportunities. I have performed at PBT more in this one year than I have at any other program I have attended in the past. Also, the opportunities I’ve had to dance and perform with the company this year have been a great learning experience. Especially when I got to perform in Jessica McCann’s the silver line (in the March PBT: New Works program). I was alongside many principal and soloist dancers, so it was amazing to learn and dance so closely with them in a small setting. This is what I feel has prepared me most for a professional position.”

Describe your ballet “epiphany” – the moment you knew this was what you wanted to do professionally.
“I would describe my ballet “epiphany” as having a really special teacher, Mr. Piper, come into my life at the right time. His method of teaching made me fall in love with ballet. I became more and more interested every day and just knew that I was meant to pursue this amazing art form. When I started this year at PBT, I just felt it was the perfect place for me. It has been a dream to dance with this company since I was a little kid because I would always come to the shows growing up and wanted to see myself on that stage one day making my dreams come true.”

What are some of your personal goals for your first season as a company dancer?
“Some of my personal goals for my first season as a company dancer would be to keep improving my technique and learn as much as I can from the dancers around me. (PBT Principal) Hannah Carter and (corps de ballet dancer) Jessica McCann have been so helpful already by letting me pick their brains and ask them questions about what to expect my first year. Also, when my partner and I were rehearsing Sugar Plum (pas de deux) on our own, (PBT Principal) Alejandro Diaz would just be walking by and he would always come in and give us tips on how to improve our dancing together. I am very thankful for their help and how warm and welcoming everyone has been.”

What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer? 
“I would say the most fulfilling thing about being a ballet dancer is working as hard as I can every day, to the point of exhaustion, and being able to go to bed every night feeling like I gave it all I’ve got. Being able to set a goal for myself and finally reaching that goal is one of the most fulfilling things to me. For me, it always has been and always will be about the personal growth.”

What are you most looking forward to dancing next season?
“I am most looking forward to dancing The Great Gatsby and Mozart in Motion (featuring works by George Balanchine and Jiří Kylián) next season!”

If I weren’t a ballet dancer, I would be…
“Although I can’t imagine my life without ballet, I would have to say if I weren’t a ballet dancer I would be a contemporary dancer since that is what I grew up doing.”

Alexandre Silva to Make Final Bow of 12-year Career

This weekend, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s final performance of UPMC Presents West Side Story Suite + In The Night + Fancy Free will celebrate the final bow of a very special artist.

Soloist Alexandre Silva will retire from his 12-season career with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre following the company’s season finale production, dancing Jerome Robbins’ In The Night opposite his long-time partner Julia Erickson.

Alexandre Silva - Final Bow - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Julia Erickson and Alexandre Silva in Jerome Robbins’ In The Night

“Alexandre is a very special artist. He has wonderful technique and brings a pathos to his dancing that resounds beyond the stage and into the audience. He’s taken on so many roles for us — even beyond dancing. He helps his colleagues in rehearsals, in class and has made so many meaningful contributions to PBT as an organization. We will miss him greatly,” said Terrence S. Orr, PBT artistic director.

Silva, a native of Brazil, joined PBT in 2006 after performing professionally with Sesi Minas and later with Utah Regional Ballet in the United States.

Fans will remember Silva for his rich technique and artistic interpretation and the regal bearing he brought to roles including Albrecht and Hilarion in Giselle, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and Drosselmeyer and Sugar Plum Cavalier in The Nutcracker.

Alexandre Silva - Final Bow - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Alexandre Silva and Julia Erickson in Swan Lake

Principal dancer Julia Erickson, his frequent partner over more than a decade, had the opportunity to dance opposite him in many of these iconic ballets.

“He really is one of the kindest souls that I know. He knows who is and has such a subtle sense of confidence. He’s such a caring partner and a breath of calmness that’s really wonderful to have around. He’s served so many amazing roles in the company. He’s got this really great instinct and versatility to his artistry. I always know he’s there for me and I’m going to miss our partnership a lot. It’s meant so much to me,” Erickson said.

For many seasons, Silva also had the opportunity to dance opposite his wife, former PBT principal dancer Christine Schwaner, who now serves as a faculty member for PBT School.

Alexandre Silva - Final Bow - Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Alexandre Silva and his wife, Christine Schwaner, in Giselle

Following their 2012 performance of the lead roles in the romantic ballet Giselle, Jane Vranish of the Post-Gazette wrote, “{Silva} was the perfect Albrecht, certainly one of the most coveted dramatic roles in the ballet repertory, and the perfect partner — a handsome lover who rued his actions. He also supplied a smooth muscular technique, with a series of double cabrioles and swooping backbend that drew gasps…This couple was genuine, and they drew the audience into their story with an emotional attachment. It was real. It was honest. It was a privilege to watch them.”

Just as it has been a privilege to watch Alexandre on stage for over a decade.

Join us in celebrating Alexandre’s career — and his final bow — at our 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, performance of UPMC West Side Story Suite + In The Night + Fancy Free at the Benedum Center.