‘Giselle’ opens Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th anniversary season |
Theater & Arts

‘Giselle’ opens Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th anniversary season

Mark Kanny
Rich Sofranko
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performing George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations.”
Duane Rieder
Kyle Abraham’s “Quiet Place” performed by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Corey Bourbonniere and Victoria Watford.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Celebration will include five major programs offering a wide range of dance from Romantic era mainstays to new works by choreographers with strong ties to Pittsburgh.

Artistic director Terrance Orr says the company is doing well, and boasts an exceptional roster of dancers and a strong staff. He says expansion of the company’s headquarters, including large new studios, has “changed the whole flavor here.” The ballet’s school is thriving and the company has been operating in the black for more than a decade.

All performances will take place at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center, except as noted.

The season opens aptly with “Giselle,” Oct. 25-27, one of the most beloved classics in the repertoire. Adolphe Adam’s beautiful score will be performed live by the company’s orchestra. The story is about a peasant girl who loves dancing but dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is engaged to another. The supernatural second act is a high point of romantic love stories.

The centerpiece of the season is Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 6-29. It is the story of a girl’s magical Christmas eve. Orr created the company’s production of the Russian ballet and set it in Pittsburgh, with sets featuring or alluding to famous local sights.

Choreographer Lew Christensen’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Feb. 14-23, 2020, was created for San Francisco Ballet’s 25th anniversary in 1958. It’s neoclassical dance is performed to a score of Tchaikovsky’s music assembled from many works. “The old moral reads that beauty is only skin deep. So, this ballet says, is beastliness. To love is to be human, and it is no less, to humanize,” said Christensen.

“Here and Now” will be a program of contemporary dance created by choreographers with strong Pittsburgh ties, March 20-29, 2020, at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center.

“The Quiet Dance,” by Pittsburgh native and MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient Kyle Abraham, captures feelings of frustration and isolation performed to Bill Evans’ arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time.” Staycee Pearl will create a new ballet for this program on the 20 th anniversary of relocating to Pittsburgh, where her own company is in residence at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. She’ll be artist in residence with the ballet during its 50 th season. Dwight Rhoden, who has had seven premieres at PBT, will be represented by his “Simon Said,” performed to music by Paul Simon.

The season concludes with a program of legendary choreographer George Balanchine’s works set to Tchaikovsky’s music, April 17-29, 2020. Orr says the opening piece, “Theme and Variations” is “one of the most perfect ballets.” “Allegro Brilliante,” “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” and “Diamonds” complete the show, all enhanced by live orchestral performance.

Subscriptions cost $81 for three ballets in the least expensive seats to $510 for five ballets in the most expensive seats. Single ticket sales will begin Aug. 6.

Details: 412-456-6666 or

Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.