Dance Beat: Road Trip, Richard, PBTDE

Nao Kuszaki and Christopher CoomerON THE ROAD. I started my second Dance Adventure last night with the opening of Ballet Across America at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Three performances this week with nine companies, including Houston Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre (Tues.), Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet (Fri.) and Ballet Memphis, Ballet Arizona, Pacific Northwest Ballet (Sat.). That translates to 9 states — Texas, North Carolina, New Mexico/Colorado (Aspen Santa Fe), Oklahoma, Illinois, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington, plus the District of Columbia (Farrell Ballet). It’s almost a road tour in itself, without adding to the current gas/oil problems. Last night’s program already set things off on the right foot, so to speak, demonstrating the diversity of the art form in the United States. I’ll be doing an overview of the series for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette next week. But, in the meantime, I’ll have a few updates. Afterwards, the artistic directors gathered on stage for a Q&A session. It was particularly pleasurable to see Suzanne Farrell and Patricia McBride together once again after their stellar careers with New York City Ballet. Patricia is married to the charismatic Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux (former principal with both Paris Opera Ballet and NYCB!), where they run NCDT. Aussie Stanton Welch, the baby of the bunch, was also on hand to talk about Houston and the panel was moderated by NCR’s Kim Kokich.

Melody Herrera and Ian Casady

THANKS, RICHARD. For giving dance such a prominent arena at the Pittsburgh Pride Festival last weekend. Although I missed Michael Walsh, I caught the ultra-hot Zafira Dance Company, the ultra-cool Kyle Abraham, the beyond colorful Knot Dance Company and its paintball battle and Jones Summer Intensive alumnae in an impressive re-dance of its Michael Jackson tribute. Mr. Parsakian, a treasure in the dance community, did it all, from arranging things to sweeping the stage between acts. And he picked up a great tan in the process.

A FRESH START. Pittsburgh Black Theatre Dance Ensemble gave off a joyous aura with a pair of dances based on Katherine Dunham’s choreographic style at Dance Alloy Theater’s Unblurred series. It was called “African Legacy: American Fruit from African Roots” and is now in the passionate arms of PBTDE artistic director Chrisala Brown and The Legacy Arts Project artistic director Imani Barrett. For the record, the performers included, besides Ms. Brown, Celeste Houston, Dijon Kirkland, Erin Perry and Lakeisha Wolf. Adding to the rite of dance were percussionists Anthony Mitchell, Ben Fullard and Shabaka Perkins and poet Oba Wells.

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