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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre broadens range for season

Mark Kanny
Duane Rieder
JoAnna Schmidt and Alexandre Silva in Balanchine's 'Western Symphony' for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Duane Rieder
Alejandro Diaz in 'Man in Black' for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Duane Rieder
Amanda Cochrane in 'Peter Pan' for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Duane Rieder
Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski in 'Le Corsaire' for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

The increasing strength of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has emboldened artistic director Terrence Orr to offer up an ambitious range of dance for the company’s 2015-16 season.

The company will perform works from 1856 to 2010 by nine choreographers, presented in three full-length ballets and two mixed programs.

Performances will be at the Benedum Center, Downtown, except as noted.

The season will open from Oct. 23 to 25 with George Balanchine’s “Western Symphony” in a mixed program. Its swaggering cowboys and high-spirited dance-hall girls were created in 1954 for his New York City Ballet to a score arranged by Hershy Kay.

The first program also will include “Sinfonietta” by Netherlands Dance Theatre’s Jiri Kilian, set to music by Leos Janacek, and William Forsyth’s “In the Middle Somewhat Elevated,” which is performed to electronic music by Thom Willems.

Orr’s staging of “The Nutcracker” will return for its 14th season from Dec. 4 to 27. A rotating-cast system and annual tweaks to the choreography keep this holiday evergreen fresh, along with the inspired music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

“Peter Pan” by Jorden Morris also will return from Feb. 12 to 14, 2016. Created in 2006 for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada, it was a hit when the ballet first performed it in October 2011. Atmospheric scenery and superb flying sequences make the story of Peter and his Lost Boys come vividly to life.

Three well-contrasted works compose the second mixed program, March 10 to 13, 2016, at the Byham Theater, Downtown. “Man in Black” is James Kudelka’s tribute to Johnny Cash and was created for Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio. Michael Smuin’s sensuous “Eternal Idol” was created for American Ballet Theatre in 1969 and is performed to Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Anthony Tudor’s “Jardin aux Lilas” is a poignant period drama that the ballet performed in March 2013.

The final ballet will be “Le Corsaire,” from April 15 to 17, 2016. It is an epic adventure of pirates and romance, which was first performed in 1856 at the Paris Opera and re-choreographed in 1899 by Marius Petipa for the Maryinski Ballet in St. Petersburg.

“‘Le Corsaire’ is very physical, with a lot of extravaganza dancing,” Orr says. “It’s challenging for the men. You really have to have five really good men. I think my company is looking very strong. I’ve felt very good for the women for three to four years, the last two especially. I’m feeling the same now after what’s been happening with my boys.”

Subscriptions to the five shows cost $78 to $505. Single tickets, $28 to $105, will go on sale Aug. 31.

Details: 412-454-9107 or

Mark Kanny is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or [email protected].

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