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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Returns To The Benedum With October 'Season Premiere'

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Performances run Oct. 22-24.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Returns To The Benedum With October 'Season Premiere'

After 20 months of darkened theaters and digital performances, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers make their long-awaited return to the Benedum Center stage Oct. 22-24 for the company's 2021-2022 "Season Premiere" with the PBT Orchestra.

The mixed repertory program spotlights an exciting range of classical and contemporary technique with a world premiere by Jennifer Archibald, a PBT premiere by Helen Pickett and classical works by George Balanchine and Victor Gsovsky.

"Season Premiere" kicks off the first complete theater season programmed by Artistic Director Susan Jaffe, who took the helm as the company's seventh artistic director - and second woman director - in July 2020.

"This program really sets the tone for our season," Jaffe said. "Women artistic directors are still uncommon in the ballet world, so in addition to my love for the classics, it's important to me to celebrate the talented women, like Helen Pickett and Jennifer Archibald, who are pushing the boundaries of this art form. More than half of the choreographers we are presenting this season are women, and all of them bring an incredible depth of creativity to their work."

Single tickets start at $29 and are available at pbt.org or 412-456-6666. Subscription packages start at $84 at pbt.org or 412-454-9107 and offer subscriber benefits and 20 percent savings over single tickets. Groups of 10 or more save up to 50% at pbt.org/groups. Detailed information about the theater's COVID-19 protocols - including mask and vaccine requirements - is available at trustarts.org/health.

About the Works

In a PBT world premiere, Jennifer Archibald's "Through the Window" (2021) weaves elements of ballet, modern and hip hop technique into a dynamic work for 10 dancers set to songs, including Uno Helmersson's "The Silent Lake" and Frans Bak's "Singing the Truth." "The work is physical and exciting. It has a lot of different emotional arcs in it," Archibald said, adding that the title alludes to quiet moments of self-reflection. Archibald is founder and artistic director of Arch Dance Company, resident choreographer for Cincinnati Ballet and a graduate of the Alvin Ailey School. In addition to her commissions for ballet companies, she has worked commercially for Tommy Hilfiger, NIKE and MAC Cosmetics.

Set to music by Philip Glass and Thomas Montgomery Newman, Helen Pickett's vibrant "Petal" (2008) marks a PBT premiere and the company's second work by the award-winning choreographer. "Bathed in the light of hot yellows, pinks, and oranges the dancers' kinetic energy reflects the vitality of spring," Pickett wrote of the work. Since 2005, Pickett has created over 40 works in the U.S. and Europe for companies including Boston Ballet, Ballet West, and Semperoper/Dresden Ballet.

Part of his larger three-act ballet "Jewels," George Balanchine's brilliant "Diamonds" (1967) pays homage to the classicism of Imperial Russia and the Mariinsky Theater, where the New York City Ballet co-founder trained. Set to Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29, the work features the corps de ballet costumed in sparkling white tutus and an elegant pas de deux for a principal couple.

Set to a score by Daniel-Francois Auber, Russian choreographer Victor Gsovsky's "Grand Pas Classique" (1949) offers another dazzling display of pure classical technique. The 20th-century choreographer's best-known work remains a technical showpiece for dancers worldwide. With ambitious balances and fouettés for the ballerina and sensational leaps and turns for her partner, this pas de deux demands virtuoso performances from start to finish.

A Highly Anticipated Return to the Theater

For PBT dancers, the October "Season Premiere" program marks a long-awaited return to their home base at the Benedum Center.

"The excitement of returning to the theater is overwhelming! I really love interacting with the audience when I perform, so I've missed having them there so much," said Soloist Tommie Kesten. "I think that when this pandemic ends and the dust settles, I will leap a little higher, smile a little brighter and appreciate the applause of a live audience a lot more!"

PBT dancers last performed on the Benedum Center stage in February 2020 for "Beauty and The Beast" with the PBT Orchestra before COVID-19 brought theater performances to a standstill a month later.

Since then, the company has premiered a dozen digital works in addition to a televised performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" filmed at Hartwood Acres and the Telly award-winning virtual production "Fireside Nutcracker."

In addition to these virtual experiences, PBT performed for select audiences at the Carnegie Museum of Art and produced the May Open Air Series, which featured PBT and more than 20 other local arts organizations in outdoor performances on Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park.

Following "Season Premiere" with the PBT Orchestra, PBT next takes the stage for:

  • "The Nutcracker": December 10-29 at the Benedum Center

  • "Alice in Wonderland": February 11-13 at the Benedum Center

  • "Here + Now": March 24-27 at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center

  • "Swan Lake" with the PBT Orchestra: May 6-15 at the Benedum Center

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Returns To The Benedum With October 'Season Premiere'


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