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Pittsburgh Ballet, Seton Hill collaboration benefits students and dancers

Shirley McMarlin

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers will perform works choreographed for them by four members of the company on April 7 in the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center in Greensburg in a program titled “Icon and Echoes.”

The performance, beginning at 7 p.m., will conclude the ballet company’s annual residency with Seton Hill dance students, now in its third year.

Pittsburgh Ballet dancers Cooper Verona, JoAnna Schmidt, Jessica McCann and Yoshiaki Nakano will teach students parts of their original works, which the students will demonstrate at the beginning of the program, after which the PBT dancers will present the pieces in their entirety.

They also will dance excerpts from Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian’s contemporary ballet “Petite Mort,” including the opening piece and three duets set to music by Mozart.

“In its entirety, it’s serious, it has comedy, sensuality. It’s fairly unusual,” says Pittsburgh Ballet artistic director Terrence Orr. “Jiri Kylian is one of the most talented living choreographers in the world; none of (his works) is similar to another.”

Both the professional dancers and the students benefit from the yearly collaboration, according to Orr and TaMara Swank, Seton Hill assistant professor of dance.

“It helps our dancers with their skills to work with dancers that they don’t know,” Orr says.

“For our students studying dance, any opportunity to work with professionals is important,” Swank says. “To learn the choreography and then watch it performed is an entirely new experience.”

The community benefits from the residency as well, she says.

“Our theater environment is a little more intimate, so it’s a good opportunity to see the (Pittsburgh Ballet) dancers up close. Our concert facility is such a wonderful space for the people of Greensburg.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.


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Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
A performance for the annual Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre residency at Seton Hill University is set for April 7. Pictured is PBT dancer William Moore rehearsing with Seton Hill dance students during the 2017 residency at the Greensburg school.
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