Sunday, November 1, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Season Opener of PBT, an Eye Opener

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Season Opener of PBT, an Eye Opener


Sinfionetta pas de deux
Thursday evening October 22, 2015 The Benedum Theater was a buzz with the sound of show.  Swarming the stage were dancers in leotards and leggings, the slender frames of dancers bodies stretching and leaping across the stage with long lean muscles, men and women practicing Pirouettes and an occasional Grand jete across the stage.  The house experimenting with lighting, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT) orchestra warming up one section at a time for the PBT 2015-2016 full dress rehearsal was open to a select group of press and photographers and I was lucky enough to be invited for a glimpse of the triple bill program which launched Friday October 23, 2015. 
The guests are seated on the mezzanine level overlooking the stage and the pit.  The orchestra warms up, one section at a time, including a full brass section.  The PBT prepares a performance of high energy, emotive and innovative artistic aptitude with a flourish of beauty and grace offering two Pittsburgh premieres Sinfonietta and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated as well as Western Symphony.   The dancers move across the stage with elegance.  Their bodies twist and bend, twirl and leap with technical fluidity to the sounds of pure romanticism. 

The first number, Sinfonietta choreographed by Czech born Jiří Kylián,

introduces the Pittsburgh audience to a ballet with precise footwork, powerful gallops and a sea of green, blue and white dressed dancers who  chase each across the stage to the military music by Czech composer Janáček.   Sinfonietta is recognized as one of the 20th century’s most compelling orchestras and the PBT dancers mimic the movements of horses and birds with animation, their arms and legs in synchronization with the sound of the brass ensemble. 

The second performance on the bill, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is executed to the sounds of industrial music, and is often referred to as the work which changed ballet forever.  Choreographed by William Forsythe, a visionary of the dance world, the PBT dancers enter the stage in green and black leotards to a stark stage, a simple black drop curtain behind the jolting movements of the dancers’ limbs as they flail in expert timing to the challenging sound of the looping percussion.  The arrangements of the dancers’ bodies to the nontraditional music is intriguing and emotionally charged offering audience members an experience teetering on experimental,  while maintaining a steady showcase of professional form and function.

The third and final piece of the evening, Western Symphony is a lighthearted ballet featuring cowboys and saloon dancers.  Sure to be a show- stopping number, Western Symphony, created by one of the

best known names in modern ballet, George Balanchine.  This number is energetic and the dancers are buoyant.   The ballet is set in an old west town,   the brightly colored costumes trimmed in magenta, scarlet, golden yellow and teal add to the jovial nature of the performance.  The music, arranged by upbeat adds to.  The stage comes alive with dancers, twirling to the sounds of the orchestra, originally arranged by Hershey Kay simulates classic American Folk music and transports the dancers into the frontier.  The Western Symphony is the most classical performance of the evening but still manages to integrate the impression of a typical western themed hoedown, with classical ballet. 

As a prelude to the PBT season, this remarkable show will not disappoint.  The tremendous talent on stage combined with the eclectic choice of performances is an invitation for dance enthusiasts to enjoy a program of high artistic quality.

Reviewed by Megan Grabowski

Positively Pittsburgh Good News Reviewer, Professional writer, Social-Media Junkie, Community Fundraiser and Pittsburgh Enthusiast.

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