Dancer-choreographers key to Pittsburgh Ballet’s annual free show | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Dancer-choreographers key to Pittsburgh Ballet’s annual free show 

Hartwood Acres concert features original works and excerpts of classical favorites

Left to right: Pittsburgh Ballet’s Cooper Verona, William Moore, Amanda Cochrane, Yoshiaki Nakano and Julia Erickson

Photo courtesy of Duane Reider

Left to right: Pittsburgh Ballet’s Cooper Verona, William Moore, Amanda Cochrane, Yoshiaki Nakano and Julia Erickson

Over his 20 years as artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Terrence Orr has sporadically given company dancers opportunities to choreograph on the company or the PBT school’s students. Orr, who just signed a three-year extension, continues upping those opportunities. In May, at Seton Hill University, PBT presented a program of ballets by company members that repeats at the annual Ballet Under the Stars program at Hartwood Acres Park, on Sun., Aug. 20. 

Along with giving five dancer-choreographers another chance to show their work, the show will give audiences a taste of PBT’s new season, as those same choreographers will craft ballets for PBT’s New Works production, scheduled for March. 

The Hartwood program includes principal dancer Amanda Cochrane’s “Systole,” an 18-minute contemporary work set to original music by her mother, Barbara, which looks at the collective emotions of a group of people. Principal dancer Julia Erickson’s 15-minute quartet “Demon Hostess,” she says, “explores gender archetypes and the balance of power, real or perceived, within relationships.” Set to music by Balanescu Quartet, the neo-classical ballet “looks for the beauty in the struggle … people face when finding their voice and reclaiming control.”

Corps de ballet dancer William Moore’s 12-minute “Response” is an all-male quartet that the London native says seeks to show the strength and power of movement through explosive jumps and dance phrases. By contrast, fellow corps de ballet dancer Cooper Verona’s 13-minute “gravitational embrace” takes its inspiration from the measured ebb and flow of the universe. 

Rounding out the offerings is principal dancer Yoshiaki Nakano’s 15-minute quintet “Exit,” set to music by Philip Glass, Jóhann Jóhannsson and others. Nakano says that this classically-based ballet explores “the paths people wander and the direction they intend their lives to take.”

In addition, the company will perform excerpts from Swan Lake and Paquita, and dance-goers (for a fee) can enjoy meals from six area food trucks and wine from PBT’s new Wine Tasting Tent. 

Finally, for the first time in a long time, the Hartwood program won’t introduce us to any new company dancers: Other than Diana Yohe’s promotion to soloist, the company remains intact from last season.



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