ISRAEL WRAP-UP. Artists from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre paid a breakfast visit to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to wrap up the details of the company’s recent visit to Israel. Bolstered by a slide show, some of the dancers shared their experiences along with marketing director Aimee Waeltz. After JFGP director of operations Sue Linzer talked about Pittsburgh’s sister city, Karmiel, where the dance festival was held, Cooper Verona described how there was folk dancing everywhere, even on a nearby basketball court. They tried to participate, but “it’s more complicated than you think.”Julia Erickson focused on the Karmiel performance, where the “energy from the audience was unprecedented,” while Gabrielle Thurlow was impressed by the similarities between the two cities in size and development. She and the others got to meet the mayor (like our Mayor Ravenstahl?) and received a book about Karmiel. Alejandro Diaz mentioned their tour of Nazareth and how a volunteer tour helped them out. In Haifa, Caitlin Peabody went gaga over tons of vegetables, hummus and herbs at dinner meals, while Eva Trapp commented on “the most incredible salad ever!” The presentation ended with a video by PBT’s versatile Nicholas Coppula.
CAN YOU HEAR/SEE IT? The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, so bold in its artistic maneuvers this season, has concocted an intimate musical exploration called Hear/Now Music Series that explores the latest in jazz and contemporary sounds. A recent performance at the Dance Alloy studios featured quite a bit of dance. Husband-and-wife duo Jil Stifel and Blaine Segal returned with “Progenitor,” an environmental work that had good intentions as she, a gentle, living creature probed his raw, hand-made plastic biosphere made from found objects. Found objects and found sounds of another ilk penetrated David Bernabo’s cross-disciplinary work involved robust movement and musical input from all who participated, including a bassist, an artist/carpenter who literally put together a piece of furniture (which actually determined the 40-minute running time) and dancerTaylor Knight, who looks so different every time we see him. The Point Park University grad is charting his own diverse path, yet his compelling movement never changes. However that left little time for the stars of the evening who were at the end of an American tour and found themselves at the end of an already length evening. The Swiss-made NoReduce, a quartet who perpetuated a journey of their own through progressive jazz resonated better than expected despite the questionable acoustics at the Alloy.
ON THE MOVE. Jamie Murphy and Renee Smith of Murphy/Smith Collective need your help for their latest project. They are developing a piece under the working title I Am Woman, which will explore the historical and current aspects of womens’ rights. The 30-minute work will be presented Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh Dance Center as part of an Independent Artists Series. You can respond with your thoughts and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TALKING A GOOD GAME. Stephen Crosby has about as good a delivery as any speaker I have encountered. Not a dancer himself, but married to one, Bonnie, which sparked his interest, he has an insightful and entertaining way of delving into just about anything. His latest subject was Jerome Robbins: Demon Master of Ballet and Broadway, given this past summerat Chautauqua. In the audience were North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride (original cast of Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and more), plus former Dance Alloy artistic director Mark Taylor, with Barbara. February finds him in Naples with From Bach to Rock: Inspiring Great Choreographers. Click on Stephen Crosby for more information.
GUY TALK. Directors Marjorie Grundvig and Dennis Marshall have hired former San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Andre Reyes as the newest member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Although he will teach a variety of classes in the pre-professional program, he will be the first designated instructor for Men’s Technique, which has caused a lot of excitement.