Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has announced the promotion of four company dancers for the 2014-2015 Season, which opens in October with “The Sleeping Beauty.” PBT dancers Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano have been promoted to principal – the highest rank in the company – and dancers Gabrielle Thurlow and Alejandro Diaz have been promoted to soloist positions for the company’s 45th Anniversary Season.
“It is a privilege to be leading a company with so much talent in its ranks” said PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr. “In addition to the artists who have been promoted this season, I am extremely proud of the company as a whole. At every level, our dancers have elevated the artistic range of the company.”
The close of the 2013-2014 Season also will mark the retirements of Principal dancer Christine Schwaner and Corps de Ballet member Stephen Hadala. PBT Soloist Eva Trapp and Corps de Ballet member Nicholas Coppula also will be departing the company at the close of the season to pursue a new opportunity in New York City.
“We also want to recognize the significant contributions of the dancers that will be leaving the company this season,” Orr said. “It has been a gift to work with these talented artists. They have made real connections and lasting impact on our audiences, and we will always consider them part of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre family. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”
Amanda Cochrane – Promoted from Soloist to Principal
Named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2013, PBT dancer Amanda Cochrane has advanced from the corps de ballet to principal in her five years with PBT. Cochrane recently made her debut performance as the dual role of Odette/Odile in PBT’s “Swan Lake,” and has also performed leading roles, including the title role of “Cinderella,” Caroline in Antony Tudor’s “Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden),” Tinkerbell in Jorden Morris’ “Peter Pan,” the Russian girl in Balanchine’s “Serenade” and as Marie and the Sugarplum Fairy in PBT’s “The Nutcracker.” A native of Spokane, Washington, Amanda Cochrane received her early training from Sandra Olgard’s Studio of Dance and Ballet Arts Academy in Washington. In 2007, she continued her training with the PBT School Graduate Program in Pittsburgh. She joined the company in 2009, advanced to soloist for the 2013-2014 Season and will begin her first season as principal in 2014-2015. She has also studied at summer programs, including Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet West.
|Yoshiaki Nakano – Promoted from Soloist to Principal
A four-year PBT company member, Yoshiaki Nakano has been promoted to principal for the 2014-2015 Season. Nakano joined the PBT School Graduate Program in 2009, and was hired in 2010 as a company apprentice before advancing to the corps de ballet. Dance Magazine recognized Nakano among its “25 to Watch” for 2014, a national ranking of rising dance talent. He has delivered standout performances in PBT productions, including his recent debut as Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake,” the virtuosic jester in Septime Webre’s “Cinderella,” the Prince in PBT’s “The Nutcracker,” the Peasant Pas de Deux in “Giselle” and a featured role in Mark Morris’ “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.” In July, Nakano’s dancing received international notice when he won the gold medal in the Men’s Senior Group at the 2013 Bejiing International Ballet and Choreography Competition, which was judged by world-renowned dancers, including Angel Corella, Yuan Yuan Tan and Julio Bocca. A native of Japan, Nakano received his early training at the Elite Ballet Studio in Osaka, Japan, and later trained at San Francisco Ballet School and PBT School.
|Gabrielle Thurlow – Promoted from Corps de Ballet to Soloist
Seven-year company member Gabrielle Thurlow will start the 2014-2015 Season as the company’s newest female soloist. With PBT, Thurlow has performed featured roles, including a Stomper in Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room,” Mome Fromage in Jorden Morris’ “Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet” and both Marie and the Sugarplum Fairy in PBT’s “The Nutcracker.” Her repertoire also includes “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” Mark Morris’ “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” Balanchine’s “Serenade” and Antony Tudor’s “Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden).” A native of Buffalo, NY, Thurlow received her training from the PBT School Graduate Program as well as Neglia Conservatory of Dance in Buffalo, NY. She has also studied at various summer programs, including School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in New York.
|Alejandro Diaz – Promoted from Corps de Ballet to Soloist
Alejandro Diaz, a six-year company member, also will advance to a soloist position for the 2014-2015 Season. Originally from Miami, Fla., Diaz joined PBT in 2008 as a member of the corps de ballet. Diaz received his early dance training with Tony Catanzaro, and danced with Boston Ballet II prior to joining PBT. With PBT, he has performed the leading roles of Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake” and the Sugarplum Cavalier in “The Nutcracker,” and featured roles in Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” and “Nine Sinatra Songs,” Antony Tudor’s “Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden)” and Balanchine’s “Serenade” among others.
|Christine Schwaner – Principal
Following her eight-year career with PBT, Principal dancer Christine Schwaner has decided to retire from the stage at the end of the 2013-2014 Season. Schwaner joined PBT as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2006, advanced to soloist in 2008 and to principal in 2012. With PBT, Schwaner has performed principal roles in “Giselle,” “Don Quixote,” “Coppélia,” “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet,” and Balanchine’s “Serenade.” Her repertoire also includes “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet,” Roland Petit’s “Carmen,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Don Quixote,” as well as Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” and “The Four Temperaments.” A native of Brazil, Schwaner began her dance training with Maria Clara Salles in her hometown of Bello Horizonte, and first came to the United States at age 17 to compete in the New York International Ballet Competition, where she was a finalist and was invited to join Cleveland Ballet in Ohio. In addition to stage experience, Schwaner has shared her love for the art form with aspiring artists as a frequent guest instructor for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and as a master class instructor in the community. Schwaner said she will remain a loyal fan of PBT and will be found in the audience next season cheering on her husband, PBT Soloist Alexandre Silva. In a feature on her technique, Dance Magazine called Schwaner “the ballerina little girls dream of becoming,” writing, “During an afternoon rehearsal in a nearly empty studio, Schwaner’s presence makes the room glow. With each step of Bournonville’s meticulous pas de deux from Flower Festival in Genzano, the pint-sized Brazilian draws you in with her easy movement, expressive eyes, and bright smile.”
|Stephen Hadala – Corps de Ballet
Following a 16-year career with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Corps de Ballet dancer Stephen Hadala also will retire from the stage at the close of the 2013-2014 Season. Originally from Michigan, Hadala first came to PBT in 1998 as a PBT School student before joining the company later that year as an apprentice. Throughout his years with PBT, Hadala became known for his masterful portrayal of character roles ranging from the mysterious Drosselmeyer of “The Nutcracker” to the dramatic title role of PBT’s “Dracula.” Other featured roles include Dr. Coppélius in PBT’s “Coppélia,” Von Rothbart in “Swan Lake” and “Mitch” in the first performance by an American company of John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” His repertoire also includes featured roles in Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” and Paul Taylor’s “Company B,” and he has also danced in and originated roles in every Dwight Rhoden work that has been created on the company during his 16-year tenure. Following the season, Hadala plans to move back to his hometown in the Detroit area with his wife, Maghen, and their son Ian. He and his sister will be taking leadership of the dance school where he began his own training, and he also plans to instruct dance at Marygrove College while completing a dual degree in fine arts in dance and business.
|Eva Trapp, Soloist, and Nicholas Coppula , Corps de Ballet
Eight-year PBT dancers Eva Trapp, soloist, and Nicholas Coppula, corps de ballet, will be departing PBT at the close of the 2013-2014 Season to pursue new opportunities in New York City. Both Trapp and Coppula, who are engaged, joined the company in 2006.Soloist Eva Trapp joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet in 2006, after dancing with Ohio Ballet for four seasons as a principal dancer. Prior to joining the company, Trapp also trained for two years in the PBT School Graduate Program. Trapp advanced to soloist in 2009, and has performed leading roles for the company ranging from Dwight Rhoden’s contemporary “Ave Maria” to the leading role of Blanche in the first performance by an American ballet company of John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Her featured roles also include Flora in Ben Stevenson’s “Dracula,” the Siren in Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son” and roles in Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” and “Nine Sinatra Songs.” Born in Florence, Kentucky, Trapp trained with Cornelia Sampson at Michigan Ballet Theatre in addition to The Cleveland School of Dance and PBT School.
|Pittsburgh native Nicholas Coppula has been a part of the PBT organization for 12 years. He also came to the company through the PBT School Graduate program, where he trained for five years before joining PBT’s Corps de Ballet in 2006. During his time with PBT, Coppula has performed featured roles, including the Prince, Cavalier and Drosselmeyer in PBT’s “The Nutcracker,” Matthew in Jorden Morris’ “Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet,” as well as roles in Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” and “Nine Sinatra Songs” among others. He also has performed on local stages, including La Roche College, Act One Theatre School, Point Park University and Prime Stage. In his free time, Coppula works as a photographer and lighting designer, and has contributed these talents to a number of PBT School student performances.