Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has signed five new full-time dancers to the company roster for its 45th Anniversary Season. The new corps de ballet dancers will make their PBT stage debut at the company’s annual “Ballet Under the Stars” pre-season performance at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Hartwood Acres Middle Road Concert Area.
Three of the new dancers – Marisa Grywalski, Michaela King and Masahiro Haneji – come to the company from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School Graduate Program. PBT also welcomes dancers Jake Unger and Lucius Kirst who come to Pittsburgh from Houston Ballet II and Ballet San Jose respectively. The new dancers will join the company onstage for PBT’s free, outdoor “Ballet Under the Stars” performance, which kicks off the anticipation for PBT’s 45th Anniversary Season. Free pre-show family activities and a ticketed dinner under the PBT tent begin at 5:30 p.m. The free mixed repertory performance follows at 7:30 p.m. with bravura dancing from the classic “Don Quixote,” a reprisal of Viktor Plotnikov’s inventive PBT world premiere “In Your Eyes” and sneak peek of PBT’s 45th Anniversary Season opener with a scene from “The Sleeping Beauty.”
Marisa Grywalski – Corps de Ballet
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Marisa Grywalski comes to PBT from the PBT School Graduate Program, where she has trained since 2011. As a PBT School student, Grywalski performed in PBT main-stage productions, including “Swan Lake,” Terrence S. Orr’s annual production of “The Nutcracker,” “Giselle” and George Balanchine’s “Serenade.” Prior to her time with PBT, Grywalski received training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and at Houston Ballet Academy.
Michaela King – Corps de Ballet
PBT School graduate Michaela King grew up in North Carolina and began dancing at age five. After moving to Virginia, she began pursuing ballet more seriously, and went on to perform Serenade at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet as a high school student. She also trained extensively with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Chautauqua Institution, Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, The Rock School and Carolina Ballet. After graduating from high school, King moved to Pittsburgh to train for two years in the PBT School Graduate Program, where she had the opportunity to perform in a number of the company’s main-stage productions, including “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake,” “The Nutcracker,” “Cinderella” and George Balanchine’s “Serenade.”
Masahiro Haneji – Corps de Ballet
A native of Japan, Masahiro Haneji also joins the company from the PBT School Graduate Program. Haneji trained with Houston Ballet Academy and Houston Ballet II before enrolling in the PBT School Graduate Program in 2012. Haneji has earned honors in a number of international ballet competitions, advancing to the semi-final round of the 2011 Prix de Lausanne competition and earning the bronze medal in the 2014 World Ballet Competition’s pas de deux category. With Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Haneji has performed as a graduate student in PBT productions of “The Nutcracker,” “Jardin Aux Lilas” and “Swan Lake.”
Lucius Kirst – Corps de Ballet
Lucius Kirst comes to PBT from Ballet San Jose, where he has danced as a member of the corps de ballet since 2012. Kirst received his training from Marin Ballet in California, City Ballet School in San Francisco and The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Kirst also danced with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in New York City and completed summer intensive programs at American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet.
Jake Unger – Corps de Ballet
Jake Unger comes to PBT from Houston Ballet II – the second company of Houston Ballet. Unger began his training at the California Dance Academy, and went on to train with the Colburn School Professional Training Program, Yuri Grigoriev School of Ballet and Houston Ballet Academy. He has also completed summer intensive programs at the School of American Ballet – the official training institution of New York City Ballet – and San Francisco School of Ballet.