Dance Beat: PearlArts, Attack, Charles

A PEARL OF A STUDIO. It’s amazing what the arts can do for a neighborhood. We saw what the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Dance Alloy and artist lofts did for the East Liberty/Friendship area. Well another neighborhood is being reborn, bordering on Wilkinsburg and Point Breeze. Recently I went to the Grand Opening of PearlArts Studio, located at 201 North Braddock Avenue, near the intersection with Penn Avenue, although the entrance for the studio is actually around the corner on Thomas Boulevard. Armed with a freight elevator, which was cranky, a group of us decided to walk up to the penthouse level. On the way, we passed a facility (storage?) for Carnegie Mellon University’s drama department and it turned out that the top floor had an intriguing montage of visual artists — a dozen or so, some of which were open for perusal. But the main action was at PearlArts, professional home for Staycee Pearl dance project, with major input from husband Herman. We saw some snippets from Staycee’s company and Jil Stifel’s environmental dance inside a plastic environment sculpted by her husband Blaine Siegel, who happens to have a studio around the corner. Good luck to all!

RIVERBOAT DANCE. We’ve seen Attack Theatre in a variety of locations. But their most recent dance platform was the deck of a boat. The fund-raising event attracted, as always, some interesting ship mates on board, not only for the good company of Attack, but the fact that $30 got you the trip, some snacks and a cash bar. It was a great little cocktail hour cruise on Pittsburgh Cruise Lines’ Fantasy from the Strip District, down the Allegheny to the Point and back. Yeah, I’d do it again.

HE’S BA-ACK. One thing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has done consistently right. It has hired experienced and talented conductors over the years, including Akira Endo (who hasn’t been doing well health-wise, I hear) and David Briskin (now music director of the National Ballet of Canada). Well, Pittsburgh Ballet renewed music director and conductor Charles Barker’s contract for another three years. PBT is in good company — he is also the conductor at American Ballet Theatre.

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