A Pirate Saga with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Orchestra
April 15, 2016
by Roving Pittsburgher Reporter, Joshua Kurnot
My love affair with ballet begins with Le Corsaire. Friday April 15, 2016 was my second, live, full-scale, professional ballet theater experience. I was quickly seduced with its dynamic and explosive character, movement, and scenery. In contrast, I did not fall in love with ballet during my first experience during the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s season opening performances showcasing William Forsythe’s work. That stuff was way over my head, too modern and stark for my understanding as a novice ballet spectator. Le Corsairse’s classic themes made it easy to sympathize with.
The stunning sets for this performance were made in Germany and brought from Uruguay after only their first use there. Most striking was the grotto where the pirates hid out after stealing their prize girl and looting the village. The rippling rocks of the cave walls sparkled with gem stones and the allure of its hidden treasures within while the captain of pirates, his bare chested slave, and his newly stolen beauty danced to entertain the troops, but mutiny quickly ensued.
The obvious crowd favorite that night was the bare-chested slave to the pirate captain beingdanced by Ruslan Mukhambetkaliyev. This guy was the muscle behind stealing the prized beauty for the pirates and also stealing the entire show that night. It was a shame that the ladies didn’t even have the chance to really captivate the audience, but that’s because the ballet wasn’t created to showcase the female dynamic. This Russian style ballet showed off the power and strength of the male dancers. Ruslan’s training at the Almaty Ballet Academy in Kazakhstan and later performances as a soloist with the Moscow City Ballet and principle with the Russian National Ballet made him perfect for his role. His jumps were the highest, his lines were the strongest, and his endurance was obvious as he effortlessly performed big trick after big trick while being fueled by the excitement and cheers from the audience. The coolest part of having a live orchestra in the pit was that when Ruslan or any other dancer got on a role breaking out the really impressive moves, the maestro could sense the excitement from the audience and direct impromptu repetitions in the musical arrangements to accommodate and accentuate their performances. The synergy between the dancers, musicians, and audience was totally and completely electrifying.
Anna-Marie Holmes was the night’s guest of honor. In some way she owns Le Corsaire legally, but artistically she is the absolute authority on its creative subtleties. Talk-back discussions after the performance revealed her humble dedication to the original ideals of the ballet, but also highlighted her passion to perfect it. Many questions were about the originality of the sets, music scores, and choreography. Anna-Marie’s eloquent response to these prying questions was honest statements that exemplified how many of the world’s greatest artistic performances were conglomerations of artistic collaboration through many decades of dedication and hard work.
Joshua Kurnot is a West Virginia University Graduate of the School of Engineering. He was also part of the student team of West Virginia University engineering students who won the 2014 24-hour innovation competition held by Ecole de Technologies Superieure in Montreal Canada. Joshua now makes his home in Pittsburgh and hopes to do his small part to reduce the brain drain in the Pittsburgh area by securing a job as a mechanical engineer. Contact Joshua