Fanfare: Pittsburgh Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem ignite stage with collaboration
A collaboration two years in the making between the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem electrified the stage of the August Wilson Center for a full house on March 16, riding the wave of a buzz that saw tickets flying so fast it became necessary to add two performances to the run.
“We said we’re having a party and we’re having it,” said Melonie Nance, who co-chaired the evening with her husband, Umamaheswar Duvvuri and Ann and LeRoy Metz.
Four hundred VIPs arrived en masse for the private performance and premiere party, enjoying cocktails before being ushered into the theater. Lights dimmed, the curtain rose first for the Harlem dancers including Chyrstyn Fentroy, Jorge Andres Villarini, Ingrid Silva, Stephanie Rae Williams, and Choong Hoon Lee, who proceeded to charm with Brahms Variations and Black Swan Pas de deux.
With the second act opening on the heels of a complete 180, the PBT unleashed a contemporary set on the high notes of vocalist Kim Nazarian and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. Led by company dancers Julia Erickson, Alexandra Kochis, Alejandro Diaz, Luca Sbrizzi, Amanda Cochrane, Yoshiaki Nakano, Gabrielle Thurlow, and Alexandre Silva along with the corps de ballet, the room was on its feet before the final bow could be taken.
“It was a wonderful fusion of culture, dance, music… it was awesome,” said Demeatria Boccella. “Just a beautiful evening. Kudos to the ballet and Terrence Orr for making it happen.”
On the list were PBT’s artistic director Terrence Orr and Marianna Tcherkassky, executive director Harris and Janet Ferris, Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson and executive director Anna Glass, Richard Rauh, Bill and Vivian Benter, Dr. Chris and Barbara Howard, Smokey Robinson and his wife, Frances Glandney, Kevin McMahon, Jim and Melanie Crockard, Kilolo Luckett, Lara Washington and Ken Spruill, Hal and Diane Waldman, Melanie Harrington, Ayana Teter, Christine and Mark Popovich, Dawn and Chris Fleischner, Darryl Ford Williams, Judy Davenport, former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.
The collaborative performance runs March 16-26 at the August Wilson Center. Proceeds from the premiere party benefitted the PBT’s Community Scholarship Fund.