Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre ushers in a new ballet season with an al fresco evening of picnicking, family fun and “Ballet Under the Stars” on Sunday, Aug. 16, at Hartwood Acres’ Middle Road Concert Area. “Ballet Under the Stars” begins at 5 p.m. with free family activities and a VIP dinner with the dancers before the free mixed repertory performance at 7:30 p.m.
As part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert series, “Ballet Under the Stars” gives audiences the first look at the 2015-2016 Season company roster – including new dancers Jessica McCann, Emily Simpson and Kurtis Sprowls – before the main-stage season officially opens in October.
This year’s program will debut an original work choreographed by PBT Principal Dancer Yoshiaki Nakano, a six-year company member. Set to Mozart music, the work marks Nakano’s first for the company. He has previously choreographed on the Pre-Professional students of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and for performances of the Dancers Trust, a local organization founded to support retiring dancers through career transitions.
“We are thrilled to feature new work by Yoshiaki Nakano, who is an emerging choreographic talent within our own ranks,” said PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr. “It will be an exciting challenge for him as an artist – and for the dancers he will be creating with – to originate a new work that is 100% our own. His style blends classical technique with an inventive, contemporary movement style. I’m looking forward to what is sure to be a high-energy work.”
Also on the program, PBT will reprise the virtuosic “Pas d’action” and the “Golden Idol” solo from the classical story ballet “La Bayadère,” which closed PBT’s 45th Anniversary Season in April. The scenes highlight high-caliber classical technique from some of the ballet’s leading characters: the warrior Solor, the Radjah’s daughter, Gamzatti, and the mysterious Golden Idol.
Finally, the program revisits another 45th Anniversary highlight: Mark Morris’ sunny “Sandpaper Ballet,” an ensemble work set to the cheerful tunes of “Sleigh Ride,” “The Typewriter” and nine other ‘40s and ‘50s classics by American composer LeRoy Anderson. The work features 25 dancers costumed in electric green jumpsuits with whimsical, blue-sky torsos.
Audience members also can take advantage of a special single ticket presale for PBT’s 2015-2016 Season, which opens Oct. 23-25, at the Benedum Center with Mixed Repertory #1 featuring George Balanchine’s “Western Symphony,” William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” and Jiří Kylián’s “Sinfonietta.”
Free Family Activities (Free)- 5-7 p.m.
Audiences can arrive early for free family fun, including crafts, balloon animals, photo opportunities, ballerina dress-up and dance activities on the lawn. Concessions will be available from 5-7 p.m. from food trucks BRGR , vegan-friendly Randita’s and The Pop Stop.
Dinner with the Dancers – 5-7 p.m. (Ticket required)
PBT will host a pre-show barbecue dinner under the PBT tent with dancers and artistic staff to benefit PBT repertory, student scholarships and education programs. Guests will enjoy dinner, drinks and musical entertainment. Tickets are $75 for adults and $20 for children (ages 12+). For tickets, visit www.pbt.org or call 412-454-9138.
About the 2015-2016 Season
From the choreography of George Balanchine to the music of Johnny Cash, PBT’s five-ballet lineup features major contemporary choreographers, audience favorite “Peter Pan,” holiday classic “The Nutcracker” and the company premiere of the full-length classic “Le Corsaire” with the PBT Orchestra. The five-ballet season runs October through April. Season ticket packages start at $69 and are available online at www.pbt.org or by calling 412-454-9107. Single ticket sales open Aug. 24, at www.pbt.org or 412-456-6666. Learn more about the season here.