New Dancer Spotlight: 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:
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.”
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.”