Dance Beat: New Beginnings

CLOSING THE BORDERS. All eyes are on Arizona and the Mexican border, but arts organizations across the country have been struggling with international touring. Pittsburgh Dance Council’s Paul Organisak has complained about this for the past several years and is currently restricting most of his season to North American groups. But Guitar Society for Fine Art is the latest to experience visa problems, forcing it to postpone its season finale flamenco show, all Spanish artists,  from May 8 until Oct. 8 and 10 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. If you’ve already purchased a ticket and have further questions, contact Michael Chapman at 412-612-0499 or

MOVING ON. It will be a great day for dance at Point Park University’s graduation on Saturday. Tony Award-winning choreographer Rob Ashford, a 1983 graduate, will give the 50th undergraduate commencement address on Saturday at Mellon Arena. He also directed and choreographed  “Promises, Promises,” which just opened on Broadway. Other credits include “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (Tony Award), “The Wedding Singer” (Tony nomination) and “Curtains” (Tony nomination). The internationally-known artist will receive and honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Shea Mihm Gopaul, a 1976 graduate and director of administration for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will receive also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree as part of PPU’s master’s degree Hooding and Commencement Ceremony. A Pittsburgh native, she was a member of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and performed with Civic Light Opera. In other PPU news, those in the know might have recognized PPU grad Rob Knowles in a prominent dance position at Pittsburgh Dance Council’s presentation of BJM Danse.

ON THE HORIZON. Another organization is joining an increasing number of blips on the Pittsburgh dance screen. Oddly enough, it’s a presenting organization. And more oddly, it is an outgrowth of young talents associated with Point Park University. Called Three10 Moment (the name comes from the Oct. 3 date when the idea came about), it will form a bridge for young choreographic talents to showcase their work. I’ve been waiting for a more comprehensive and local development of the powerhouse dance program at PPU. Three10Moment now joins singular names like Jeff Davis and Pearlann Porter, who both formed wonderful careers here in Pittsburgh. It put on a program recently — its second — at the impressive Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks, one that smacked of good organization and a discerning arts eye. This was seriously fine work by young choreographic talents. Kudos to the co-founders at Three10 are Jami Shapiro and Erin Kouwe, plus staff members Nicole Townsend and Mary Muncil. Remember their names. For more information, contact 516-286-0188 or

NEW YORK, NEW YORK. Pittsburgh dance icon Jean Gedeon was once again invited to the Big Apple by the New York City Ballet last February. She joined a select group from across the United States for a National Teachers Weekend, which included a cocktail reception, a class taught by artistic director Peter Martins and NYCB performance. Jean also has news of Pittsburgh Youth Ballet alum Amy Barker, who was hired by Los Angeles Ballet.

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