Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to stage outdoor festival on Sharpsburg riverfront | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to stage outdoor festival on Sharpsburg riverfront

click to enlarge Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to stage outdoor festival on Sharpsburg riverfront (2)
Photo: Duane Rieder
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Even as spring continues to deliver dreary, wet weather, Pittsburgh arts organizations are looking forward to the summer. To that end, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced that it would bring back its Open Air Series, a collaborative project that delivered dance, theater, music, and more on a mobile outdoor stage.

Over a weekend in June, Open Air will showcase PBT, as well as "several arts and cultural organizations and dance schools," including Confluence Ballet, Jamie Erin Murphy, Naina Roy Kathak, and Shana Simmons Dance. A press release says that this year, the stage will be located in Sharpsburg.

For the first time, a number of "prominent regional studios" will also come together for Open Air: Shared Spaces, a program curated by dancemaker Joe Nickel and including the Allegro Dance Company, Dance Unleashed, Donna’s School of Dance, LDI Dance Works, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Seton Hill University, and A Step Above Dance Academy.

Additional participating organizations will be announced at a later date.

“We are excited that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air festival will find a new home in Sharpsburg this summer," says state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who represents Sharpsburg's district. "Partnership and collaboration are vital to the success of this event and the proliferation of the arts in our region. Thank you to everyone involved in production. I'm looking forward to watching the show with my friends and neighbors."

PBT launched Open Air in 2020 as a way to "safely bring over 7,000 people and 26 local arts organizations together to enjoy live theater." Previously, Open Air was located on Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park, where PBT shared the mobile stage with "fellow performers from other dance groups, local opera and theater companies, musicians, and others" who needed a way to reach audiences as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many indoor venues.

The announcement comes after PBT has made a return to the stage, with performances taking place at the Benedum Center and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, where the company presented the show Here + Now in March.

PBT executive director Harris Ferris says that the company looks forward to performing Swan Lake with the PBT Orchestra at the Benedum Center from May 6-15, adding, "we are also very excited to continue this outdoor performance series on our mobile stage, allowing audiences to experience Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and other local arts organizations in the gorgeous setting of the Allegheny River shoreline in Sharpsburg.”

PBT was able to bring Open Air back with funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District and the Gaming & Economic Development Tourism Fund, and through a partnership with Mosites Company. Mosites allowed PBT to set up on a 52-acre, 1.5-mile shoreline site being transformed into "a mixed-use wellness community and regional destination" called Riverfront 47. Once completed, the site will "ultimately integrate a variety of residences, a riverfront village with retail and restaurants, innovative office space, and outdoor parks and recreation space for locals and tourists."

Mosites representative Susan Mosites Bicket says the Open Air Series "sets the stage for the Mosites Company’s large-scale, mixed-use wellness community development along the Allegheny River to play host to community gatherings, cultural events, and recreational opportunities, activating the riverfront for the benefit of Sharpsburg, Allegheny County, and the Greater Pittsburgh region.”

“We hope that this weekend of performances at the Open Air Series is the first of many opportunities to bring art and unique performances to the community," says Mosites Bicket.

Open Air: A Series in Celebration of the Performing Arts. Thu., June 9-Sun., June 12. Sharpsburg Allegheny Riverfront. 1 19th St., Sharpsburg. $20. pbt.org/performances/open-air