Pittsburgh Ballet Theater brings Boléro performance to streaming | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh Ballet Theater brings Boléro performance to streaming

click to enlarge Soloist Tommie Lin Kesten performs with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater dancers. - PHOTO: KELLY PERKOVICH
Photo: Kelly Perkovich
Soloist Tommie Lin Kesten performs with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater dancers.
Restrained, moderate-tempo music gives Maurice Ravel’s 1928 ballet Boléro an unassuming start, giving choreographers room to work in the piece’s growing energy and intensity. And in seven sold-out performances earlier this year in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Sculpture, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater artistic director Susan Jaffe did just that.

From April 5-11, a recording of those February performances will be streamed for free, along with a guided tour of the artwork in the hall, as the first of PBT’s virtual spring programming.

Boléro is a one-movement orchestral piece that lasts about 15 minutes. The repetition in the music builds over the course of the ballet, both in the instrumentation and the choreography. Originally commissioned by Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, it is often performed as a purely orchestral piece, making Jaffe’s choreography even more significant to watch.


Before becoming the artistic director of PBT, Jaffe danced for American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer for 22 years and also performed internationally, including with the Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and the English National Ballet. As a choreographer, she has created works for ABT, Grand Rapid Ballet’s Move Media, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, among others.

click to enlarge Grace Rookstool leaps before PBT company dancers. - PHOTO: KELLY PERKOVICH
Photo: Kelly Perkovich
Grace Rookstool leaps before PBT company dancers.
Now, for PBT, her choreography fills the Hall of Sculpture with dancers in monochromatic black and red costumes, designed by Janet Marie Campbell. The hall’s open, light-filled space and white marble contrast sharply with the dancers, whose sharp, lively movements also juxtapose the reproductions of Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman sculptures that line the second-floor balcony.

In addition to the ballet performance itself, Carnegie Museum of Art assistant curator of fine arts Akemi May gives a guided tour of the artwork in the hall. A recorded Q&A with PBT music director Charles Barker is also available for those who wish to learn more about Ravel’s ballet.

To sign up for free access to the performance and guided tour, visit pbt.org/performances/bolero.

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