On Stage: Welcoming a new MAC

Gerard Holt is following his dream and, as a result, Pittsburgh has a new ballet company. Called Mid-Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Company (MAC Ballet for short), it’s making its debut Saturday night at the Father Ryan Performing Arts Center in McKees Rocks.

Gerard is best known as a former corps member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and remained in the Pittsburgh area to teach, primarily at La Roche College’s dance program. There he and Miriam Scigliano, co-founder of MAC Ballet, talked about starting a new company.

“I pretty much ran the department at La Roche that way,” says Gerard. “But it was hard to do both, to keep the academic setting and still prepare the dancers for a professional environment.”

“I had known for some time that I was going to have to make a major change,” he admits. So with Miriam’s help, the two started the non-profit paper work in the spring of 2008. But Gerard knew that he would have to make a major change to take things to the next level, so he resigned from La Roche last year.

The two founders have designed a program around their own choreography for the company’s initial performance. Miriam will contribute “Now We Rise,” a “haunting,” but inspirational piece set to music by Nick and Molly Drake, and a duet to Rachminoff that was “well-received” when it was performed  in New York City by La Roche dancers. Gerard has created “A Tribute to Vivaldi” and is collaborating with local pianist Erica Lynn on a Schubert work.

Now Gerard is happily facing a different kind of challenge, teaching at Sandra Lynn’s School of Dance to pay the bills and moving around his dancers’ work schedules. It’s obviously worth it all to him because Gerard’s passion comes through as he talks about bringing another professional outlet to Pittsburgh dancers.

“You get to the higher levels and there’s nowhere to go for people who really want to stay here,” he explains. “Not everyone can dance with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Dance Alloy or Attack Theatre. I want to be able to contribute. Being able to support yourself as an artist is very important to me.”

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