On Stage: Hearing the Dance

September 30, 2010

I have often said that I am happiest watching great dance along with great music (although not necessarily joined at the hip). Whatever your preference, it seems that Pittsburgh dance companies have taken music to heart, including Attack Theatre’s brilliant partnering with four different bands in “Site/Re-site”, Pillow Project’s upcoming month-long multi-media dance installation with original P.J. Roduta score, and, within a few hours’ driving distance, the Joffrey Ballet/Cleveland Orchestra collaboration at the Blossom Music Festival and North Carolina Dance Theatre/Chautauqua Orchestra at Chautauqua.

Yes, I am happy.

I recently had the chance to talk with Pascal Rioult, whose company will open the Dance Council’s 2010-11 season on Friday, as well as anchor the Performing Arts Exchange, a regional touring conference.

Pascal’s musical tastes lean toward the symphonic. Hence  live music really isn’t an option, although recorded music is still acceptable for touring modern dance companies. But for music lovers (and that includes a lot of dance devotees), there’s nothing wrong with a program that has a triple-threat combination the likes of Bach, Ravel and Stravinsky.

It appears that the former Martha Graham dancer regularly goes on a musical tangent, something that has lasted 12 years. It’s a play on the whole chicken and egg thing. What comes first — the inspiration for choreography or the music itself? According to Pascal, it can swing both ways. ” I have to feel something in the music,” the Frenchman explains in his soothing accent. “It has to take me somewhere besides my everyday life.”

In the beginning, he felt that he had something to say by revisiting familiar classical themes. But that takes a lot of chutzpah — after all, there have been over 150 dance productions of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” But that’s getting ahead of things because it all began with Ravel, known for his compositional techniques. “You hear about the great master painters,” Pascal continues. “At first they study and repaint the masters. You learn about the craft and you learn about yourself.”

As an established dance artist, he had an understanding of what he was, but didn’t know why. Ravel began to show him the way, whereupon he built an entire evening program of his works. It started a way of working. Stravinsky was a step further in the the same direction. “Stravinsky can get really wild,” Pascal says of “Les Noces.” But he equated it to a life experience that doesn’t make sense until the end.

Then there is his newest project to Bach, who he chose “because he was the source” for both Ravel and Stravinsky. “Both composers said they had Bach music on their shelf — pretty much that’s all they had. I felt the same way; now I understand his complexity. It’s kind of going back, but it’s going back to go forward.”

This season he will finish with his Bach episode. What next? He has decided to turn to contemporary American composers. “I will pick them because they work in the same kind of vein I do — the classical structure with emotion.”

Pittsburgh’s program will contain a look at each of the musical  giants. As Pascal puts it, “three very different ways to look at music, three very different ways of interpreting the score.” After concerts, some people tell him, “I didn’t know that the piece was like that” or “I never heard it this way.”

“To me, that is a kind of a victory.”

Dance Beat: Performing Arts Exchange, Day One

September 30, 2010

Jeff Gordon checks out arriving members of the Performing Arts Exchange at PNC Park.

Things were percolating yesterday at the Performing Arts Exchange, the touring and presenting organization that covers the Eastern and Southern United States. For more, see Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Members registered and began to set up the Market Place at David L. Lawrence Center. But the main action came last night, as attendees went to an opening reception at PNC Park.

They were greeted by members of the Zany Umbrella Circus. Jeff Gordon (Clown Gordoon), sporting four striped legs, was among the whimsical artists. Some may recall that he once worked with Beth Corning at Dance Alloy.

It seems that he was just in Abu Dhabi with the Big Apple Circus, one of his many former lives. The Big Apple got a call to put on a show there, but the company was touring the United States. So the creative heads put together an alumni show and sent them off to the Middle East.

“We killed,” said Jeff. According to him, the previous entertainment was an ice skating show that drew only 300 a night. The Big Apple drew between 2200 and 2500 and turned people away. So what if the run was in July and August when you could “only stay outside for 20 minutes max.” Jeff was put up in a five-star hotel…

Upstairs the PAE members munched on a Pittsburgh-style buffet that included pierogies. Tapes of PAE artists played on all the televisions and, yes, on the giant scoreboard(!). On the balcony, Mary Matthews and Gregg Little of New Frontier Touring in Nashville, Tennessee were suitably impressed as they watched the sunset reflected in the city across the river.

I met with Hank Knerr, director of public events at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where they will present Ron Brown’s Evidence Feb. 23 and New York choreographer Ben Munisteri Apr. 7. Faculty pianist Dr. Henry Wong Doe will be soloist when the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra visits there Mar. 29. And it’s been too long since I had seen former Pittsburgh Dance Council director Carolelinda Dickey (now a dance strategist), who was chatting the iconic dance manager Ivan Sygoda of Pentacle.

Linda Reznik of River City Artists Management was busy networking with Carolyn Tuminella, associate director of River City Brass, and Ken Metzner, executive director of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, representing Philadelphia’s exploding dance community. See them tonight along with Dance Alloy and Mary Miller at Linda’s showcase in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Peirce Studio, 805/807 Liberty Avenue (6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.). Then visit the juried showcases at the August Wilson Center at 7:30, including River City Brass and Chicago’s River North Dance Company and Dance Chicago. All showcases are free for the first time.

Off Stage: Byham House is Now a Home

September 29, 2010

Carolyn Byham prepares to cut the ribbon surrounded by State Senator Jay Costa, Pittsburgh council member Doug Shields, husband William Byham and the Three Musketeers

The anticipation is over. Fifteen young ballet dancers (they are still waiting for one more aspiring ballerina from Japan) have moved into Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s latest acquisition, Byham House, which will provide a safe environment for its young dancers. For years the company had a program that matched the dancers with local families. Sometimes that didn’t work, given cultural differences, time schedules and, well, personalities.

These young dancers, some of whom leave their families at the age of sixteen, began resorting to apartments, spotlighting the need for a facility such as this. William and Carolyn Byham came to the rescue, as they have so often for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in the past (and the Byham Theater Downtown and other non-profit organizations as well).

The couple, who are PBT charter subscribers, presided over the ribbon-cutting last week, with such public figures as State Senator Jay Costa, Pittsburgh council member Doug Shields, PBT board chair Shelley Taylor, longtime PBT supporter Bette Evans and National Society of Arts and Letters president Norman Brown.

I had a sneak peak over the summer at the facility that is just a mile from the PBT studios on Liberty Avenue. But now the colorful IKEA furniture , coordinated by Larry Scott, was in place in the common room. (The large flat-screen television came with rules attached and a schedule to sign.)

A brief tour found mostly double and triple rooms, all efficiently designed, and already neatly showing signs of artistic individuality. Personalized white marker boards decorated each door. There was a “Dirty Dancing” poster in one room with pink tights drying on a mesh clothes hamper. Another had large pictures of ballerinas Paloma Herrera from American Ballet Theatre and Alina Cojocaru of the Royal Ballet. PBT photos and artwork decorated the halls.

The designers allowed space for a computer room, a space for studying and dining and kitchen facilities, complete with a house chef. There is even shelf space to store personal foods and snacks. Graduate resident director Marchae Peters has her own small apartment on site and already lined up activities to fill the down time (from the Carnegie Science Center to Sandcastle and Monroeville Mall to movie night) to help these out-of-town dancers bond with Pittsburgh.

I ran into Marchae with three of the students on the second floor, already creating new memories by

From left: Ethan Lee, Leslie Green, Aidan Schubert and Marchae Peters

taking photographs. Petite Leslie Green, who will “be 16,” came from Kalispell, Montana and bourreed into Pittsburgh for PBT’s summer session. Impressed by the quality of teaching and the increased number of training hours, she returned full-time at the invitation of the PBT staff.

Lithe, long-limbed Aidan Schubert, already 16, came from Fredonia, Arizona, home of the Arizona Ballet and its Pittsburgh connections. Of course artistic director Ib Anderson was a former ballet master here, but it is Aidan’s striking resemblance to former PBT principal Nanci Crowley, now AB school director, that caught the eye.

Budding cavalier Ethan Lee, who will “be 18,” is a native by comparison. He came from North Canton, Ohio, for a summer session several years ago. Now a few inches taller, he returned for the summer and, invitation in hand, persuaded his parents to let him stay.

So while the dignitaries talked about the importance of the arts and ballet in general, this trio was tangible evidence that this House will become the home that is needed to attract top talent to the burgeoning PBT school program.

On Stage: A Menu Tasting of Dance

September 28, 2010

In the middle of writing an article for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the Performing Arts Exchange, a touring conference running Wednesday through Saturday here in Pittsburgh, it occurred to me that this Friday, with various PAE and independent showcases, was a bonanza for dance and other arts lovers…and mostly FREE. The PAE website is a little tricky to navigate, so I’ll save you the trouble and list the dance related offerings. Everything is short – 15 or 20 minutes – much like the above-mentioned menu tasting and all within a few blocks of each other. Some feature complimentary light hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine. Also on tap — the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Gallery Crawl, opening of the Pittsburgh Dance Council season and Pittsburgh Festival of Lights. Enjoy!

5:30-9 p.m. – THE PILLOW PROJECT – Cultural Trust Educational Center, 805/807 Liberty Avenue, Lower Level – “Quantum Crumple Amnesia,” an ongoing multi-media dance installation every half hour re-exploring the same idea we don’t ever remember ever having.

5:45-7:45 – MOQUETTE VOLANTE – Katz Plaza – Middle Eastern dance company, featuring performance (5:45 p.m.), bellydance lesson/jam (6:45 p.m.), performance (7:15 p.m.).

6-7:30 p.m. – PENNPAT DANCES! – Bricolage, 937 Liberty Avenue – Attack Theatre, Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, Pasion y Arte.

6-7:30 p.m. – SQUONK OPERA, CAPA – Three 20 minute multi-media showcases of “Mayhem and Majesty” at 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m.

6:30-8 p.m. – DANCE ALLOY – 805/807 Liberty Avenue, second floor – Creative Movement for Beginners (6:30 p.m.), Modern Movement for Adults (7 p.m.), Hip Hop for Everyone (7:30 p.m.).

7:15-9:15 p.m. – KNOT DANCE – The Verve 360 Wellness Studio, 142 Sixth Street, Third Floor – Debut of Maddy Landi’s BareBones Series. Called “Fall in Love,” it’s a “whimsical fairy tale filled with Food Fights, Fun and French Chanson.” Shows at 7:15, 8 and 8:45 p.m.

7:30- 9 p.m. – ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIO – Cha-Cha (7:30 p.m.), Tango (8 p.m.), Swing (8:30 p.m.).

7:30-11 p.m. – PAE JURIED SHOWCASES – August Wilson Center – White Ghost Shivers, VIVER BRAZIL (Dance, 7:50 p.m.), POST Comedy Theatre, Inner City All-Stars, Cimarron, ArchDream for HUMANKIND, Raul Midon, The Water Coolers, Scott Ainslie.

8-10 p.m. – RIOULT- Byham Theater – Opening the Pittsburgh Dance Council season, this New York modern dance company has a program that features works by Bach, Ravel and Stravinsky. More to follow on CrossCurrents. For ticket info, click on Rioult.

SUNDOWN – PITTSBURGH FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS – Various themes projected onto the sides of four Pittsburgh buildings all, along Penn Avenue. Look for “Splendors” (David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 10th St.), “Hope,” (Catholic Charities Building, 9th St.), “Old Bones” (Mahla Office Furniture, 8th St.) and “Cascade” (Heinz Hall, 7th St.).

7:30 p.m. – ? p.m. – ATTACK THEATRE – Bricolage, 937 Liberty Avenue – Game Night & The Seven-Minute Dance Series, a combination of movement and libations.

Video: Black Swan

September 25, 2010

Haven’t had enough of “Swan Lake?” Check out a sneak peek of Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan,” a thriller due for release Dec. 1. It’s directed by Darren Aronofsky, director of “The Wrestler” with Mickey Rourke. Hm-m-m. If you have the time or the inclination…

On Stage: Attack-ing Chatham Baroque

September 23, 2010

Well, Attack Theater, a true Pittsburgh dance treasure, is well into the third quarter of its fascinating Grand Experiment — not pairing, but quadrupling the music benefits in its latest project, “Site/Re-site.” Yes, four bands nudging the movement in different directions on different nights. The first two were covered in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Last night Attack took a 180 degree turn from Deoro’s wild-eyed musical adventure when it took on Chatham Baroque. Of course the opening scene in Becca’s Bar and Grill didn’t change… as much. But still, I loved the moment when all six of the Attackers danced on the bar to “Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi?”– as dextrous and daring as mountain goats.

And the bands seem to respond to that attitude, venturing above and beyond their comfort zones. For the second and third segments, Chatham Baroque, in turn a true classical music treasure in Pittsburgh, was the band of the night. Perhaps it was most apparent with this particular combination how the various groups met on common ground.

CB offered a widespread selection, including a tango-ripe piece for Dane Toney and Ashley Williams, who was so generous in her subsequent solo, and a pastoral frolic for Michele de la Reza and Jeff Davis, both of whom share a musical intuition that seems to defy description. It was nifty to see how the dancers adapted to Chatham Baroque’s meticulous rhythms, adding crisp finishes to the phrasing. Then Liz Chang’s solo took on a surprising contemporary flavor, with percussionist Danny Mallon delving into throat-singing with the use of mysterious vocal harmonics. The last, a set of variations that sounded like “La Folia,” was one crescendo of increasing sophistication that was reflected in the dance.

How about the musicians not going for Baroque, but for pop? And that they did in the finale, where CB brought a fresh voice to selections by the other bands. Take the way the rusty steel door, where Peter and Michele exchanged glances, contrasted with violinist Andrew Fouts’ use of harmonics. And he took a turn, his first public vocal ever, at Dave Eggar’s “Birdcage.”

By its very nature, dance exists in moment and then it’s gone forever. With this project, the moments are almost palpable. Chatham Baroque still plays tonight, while Ben Hardt and the Symphony (four rockers plus string quartet) take over Friday and Saturday. An evening not to be missed…

For more information, see Listings.

Photo by Jonathan Greene

Photo by Jonathan Greene

Photo by Jonathan Greene

Dance Beat: Daniel, NSAL, Yanlai

September 22, 2010

NYCB FRIENDS. When Daniel Ulbricht heads into town at the Byham Oct. 15, he’ll be bringing some “friends” with him. There isn’t much out there, but a few things popped up on YouTube. Sterling Hyltin (click on Sterling) is the Juliet that Peter Martins plucked from the soloist ranks for his new production of Romeo and Juliet as a 21-year old  in 2008 and is now NYCB’s youngest principal dancer. Principal Jonathan Stafford has some close ties to the area — he was born in Carlisle and trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. The third principal is Teresa Reichlen, known for her beautiful long lines (she is 5’9″), which can briefly be seen in a magazine shoot (click on Teresa). Pittsburgher Stephen Hanna is a former NYCB principal who now is the older Billy in “Billy Elliot” on Broadway. And two other former Pittsburghers will be in the cast. Corps member Faye Arthurs made a name for herself at Pittsburgh Youth Ballet with her impossibly high extensions and has performed a number of featured roles, including Maria in Jerome Robbins’ “West Side Story Suite.” And corps member Stephanie Zungre, also an alum with Pittsburgh Youth Ballet and a winner of a local National Society of Arts and Letters competition, has performed featured roles in ballets such as George Balanchine’s “Chaconne.”

ARTS, LETTERS AND LIBATIONS. The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters held a fundraiser at the spacious home of Dr. Karl Williams and Mrs. Peggy Smyrnes-Williams ESQ. in Squirrel Hill to benefit the upcoming solo choreography competition in March (date TBA). The theme was South American, with tango and tapas, salsa and sangria. Chairperson Carole Kamin and president Norman Brown led the festivities, which included an auction. For more information on the competition, titled “Choreography: The Art of the Solo,” click on NSAL. Alert: this is for artists from 18 to 33, which opens things up considerably.

SOME EAST IN THE NORTH. Chinese traditional dance artist Yanlai Wu has made the move from Downtown to the North Hills, where she changed the name of her school, formerly Oriental Star Dance School, to Yanlai Dance Academy. Located on Babcock Blvd., the studio, with two classrooms, welcomed students, parents and friends to the grand opening earlier this month. For more information, click on Yanlai.

On Stage: Seeing Double

September 17, 2010

The odds of having twins are three in a hundred. The odds of having identical twins are one in two hundred fifty. The odds of seeing identical twins in an Indian dance duet? Virtually infinitesimal.

“I never thought about it before,” Odissi artist Sreyashi Dey modestly says of her 17-year old daughters Ishika and Kritika. Under their mother’s guidance, they are making a name for themselves, even to the point of already having a “signature” duet, “Ten Avatars of Vishnu,” that they will perform in Pittsburgh at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater as a part of the Srishti Dances of India performance this weekend.

It  all seems so natural for this trio of women:  A mother who has an MBA along with a degree in economics and a passion for Odissi dance; twin daughters who have a talent for math (they’re taking Calculus III, usually reserved for math majors, at the University of Michigan during their senior year at Pioneer High School) and an unwavering commitment to a dance form that goes back thousands of years.

“I love the fact that it’s so old and so rooted,” says Ishika over the phone from Ann Arbor. “It means being part of something much, much bigger than yourself and will always be bigger than yourself.”

Of course Ichika and Kritika grew up around dance and their Indian heritage. Their mom took them on yearly visits to her birthplace in Calcutta from the time they were babies — at least that’s what they’re told. Kritika, younger by six minutes, still recalls visiting her grandfather in Delhi, where everyone was celebrating a big festival called Durga Puja right in front of the house, full of food music and dance. “I was tiny,” she recalls. “But it was so vibrant and so alive. I still remember the feeling of all that was going on.”

Ishika’s first memory comes from the time she was in kindergarten. “It’s indescribably different,” she says. “India is developing quickly, but is still a third world country. Many are wealthy and educated. But down from the apartment, people are living on the streets.”

They began to study dance formally at the age of six with their mother. “I don’t think I ever gave them a choice,” she admits. Ishika remembers that it was “something your mother tells you to do or something you’re expected to do. Kritika says that “it seemed so natural — we just went through the motions.”

But by the fifth or sixth grade, the pair had made a decision to become more serious. According to Kritika, “it sunk in.” As they moved into their teenage years “we evaluated why we wanted to dance, what we wanted to take from it, what we wanted to give to it.”

Right now Ishika says that she feels “like right now is just the beginning. We are about to enter into the start of a serious, serious dance career. I don’t feel like a little kid anymore.”

In addition to rehearsing with their mother in their home, the twins studied in India, both individually and in classes. Last year they gave their first performance there. “It was a little bit terrifying — we were so nervous,” says Kritika. Ishika agrees and adds that “it was a really, really important experience for us to have, dancing in Calcutta. The audience there was much more educated about the dance and what it should look like. They’re much more aware of the technical aspects of the dance.”

Their senior year means school, volunteering and thinking about the future. And of course, there’s the dance. Occasionally teachers come from India. They’re serious, but “more technical” according to Kritika. When trying to keep the basic position called chouka, “the muscles just burn. My mom wants a more mature feeling, to make a connection with the emotions, the artistic side.”

The final effect looks effortless. The program at the Kelly-Strahorn, called “India: A Light Within,” will feature traditional Odissi dance from the trio, plus dancer Debnita Talapatra. It will be a collaboration with photographer Charlee Brodsky and poet Zilka Joseph, who will not only read her work, but will narrate.

But the three women know that the performance is not only the result of hard work, but one where the mother/teenage daughter relationship can play out in the dance. Kritika admits that her mother is often blunt about what she wants. And as Sreyashi notes, “It’s hard for them because life is always with us.”

But that doesn’t dampen their deep respect for each other. Ishika says of her sister, “She can do absolutely anything. She is very, very focused and she has this amazing ability to commit to whatever she wants to do and absolutely does it.” Kritika responds, “I stress out and she’s the one who is more relaxed and tells me that ‘it’s okay — don’t be so hard on yourself.’” It shows up in the dance — Ishika is more grounded and strong, while Kritika is more fluid.

And what do they think of their mother’s style of movement? “Mesmerizing,” they both say, in true twin fashion. Ishika puts it “on a lot of different levels because we know her and spend so much time with her. She’s our mom and our teacher and a beautiful dancer who is so technically perfect.” Kritika says that “there’s something there – a light – something extra inside of her that is amazing.”

For more information, click on Kelly-Strayhorn.

On Stage: Attacking Questions

September 16, 2010

Merce Cunningham would have loved it.

Attack Theatre has always put the emphasis where it counts — on the artistic product, whatever  that might be. Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, the company is Attack-ing Questions Night Club in the Strip District, with four bands to accompany it. Did Merce, with his equal emphasis on dance and music as independent art forms, ever envision that?

“Site/Re-site” was originally formulated to be a retrospective, a juicy idea in itself. But upon entering the club, dotted with large turquoise question marks, the company took a hard left. As artistic director Michele de la Reza, explains, “We really envisioned this show to be a kinetic playground, almost as artists [who show] different things from their lives. As for us, we imagined it as ramps, doors and spinning seesaws from our shows. We tried to go with that concept, but is wasn’t working. We were doing a site-specific piece and ignoring the site.”

They (and Attack always proceeds with “they” in mind) took a look around. It was almost as if the big question marks jumped out at them. So there are bits of the original idea in it, but gradually “Site/Re-site” began to take on its own form.

Now this company has performed everywhere from a lazy Susan on top of Mt. Washington to the Andy Warhol Museum, and everywhere in between. Last year they took on a Pittsburgh tour of no less than eight museums and art galleries in two weeks. (It tires me out just writing about it…)

Music director Dave Eggar and percussionist Chuck Palmer tagged along on the tour. But this time the music is coming to Attack — no less than four groups in the similar time frame of two weeks. They’re calling them “bands” and they include indie artist Daryl  Fleming (question: will he bring his electric fuel can?) & The Public Domain (Sept. 16), Deoro, Dave’s newly-titled trio with Chuck and bassist Tom Pirozzi (Sept. 17 and 18), Ben Hardt and his symphonic rock (Sept. 24 and 25) — hold on here — the ancient voices of Chatham Baroque (Sept. 22 and 23), maybe kicked up a notch.

Here’s the way it’s going to work out: there will be three sections. The first will have snatches of recorded musical questions, like “Why?” or “What mirror, where?” (“I Feel Pretty”). You get the idea — a zany intro to the environment, which might leave a few questions swirling in our own minds.

Now when you think of a bar, like Questions, there’s a certain grit to the surroundings. But Michele asserts that the second section will somehow take on “a much, much more abstract, almost elegant aesthetic,” with each band playing its own music.

Now here’s the switch. In the last part, each band selected a classic song — four in all. The songs will remain constant for each performance while the bands interpret each other’s musical scores. Essentially the groups will be “re-siting” the music.

But Attack Theatre isn’t quite like Merce’s relationship with John Cage, where the two art forms simply co-existed on the stage. both  running concurrently, say,  for 20 minutes. Besides, John Cage’s music was recorded. With slightly altering tempos and improvisations interfering with strict time constraints, the dancers had to take that into account. (Hint: they have a non-verbal version of the telephone game to provide transitions.)

There will be physical cues for the musicians and, if you look closely at the dancers, they will be listening ever so closely. After all, according to Michele, “they have to retain the choreographic integraty but allow the image behind the movement to morph.”

But it will still have the Attack Theatre flair, she concludes. And unlike Merce’s concerts, where people brought earphones to listen to Bach instead of John Cage, it’s almost guaranteed that audiences will come to see how both the dance and music twisted and untwisted in a hyper-linked connection.

For more info, click Attack.

Dance Beat: Back at Chautauqua

September 9, 2010

Photo by Tom WolfIt’s time to catch up on some events from a very busy summer. I was invited back to Chautauqua Institution three times this summer to review the North Carolina Dance Theater for the Chautauquan Daily, a great way to refresh at this lakewide retreat.

There is a strong Pittsburgh community there and I took the opportunity to visit with four young dance talents from the area and write about them in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The teaching staff there is excellent and I had the opportunity to watch former New York City Ballet principal Patricia McBride coach her students in “Voices of Spring,” where she created the starring role. Some members of the cast were rehearsing with NCDT, so there were understudies galore. But Patricia’s generosity and passion were sopped up by the students, creating a memorable sense of excitement. Loved watching her elicit a flowing waltz throughout.

The ballet program also brings in stellar guests like NYCB principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht,  who was student there himself and continues to give back. Heads up — Daniel will be in Pittsburgh October 15 at the Byham Theater with some of his NYCB friends.

In the meantime, enjoy a short bucolic tour of one of my favorite vacation spots.

Photo by Mark Anderson


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