Dance Beat: Jacob’s Pillow, PPU, PBT

TAP-ETTE? I’m still surprised as I write this, that Michelle Dorrance received the 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award (the same one awarded to Pittsburgher Kyle Abraham last year), which carries a cash award of $25,000. In a dance form dominated by men, she evidently taps like a butterfly while her rhythms sting like a bee. Check it out on Youtube, by herself and with her company, Dorrance Dance/New York. Love it.

PPU LINKS. Point Park Connections closed the season for the university’s dance department this year. Only in its second year, the program showcased some of the adjunct faculty, which, when combined with last year’s group, seems to be a considerable list. Besides being an opportunity for young choreographers, it gives the students a chance to participate in original works by professionals who included Sarah Everhart, Kellie Hodges, Daniel Karasik, Mariah McLeod, Jill Randolph-Lazzini and Maria Vignone Slutiak.

Photo: Rich Sofranko

Photo: Rich Sofranko

SHARING. Last year Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre broke audience boundaries at the annual Nutcracker with a program designed to enable the blind to “see” the annual holiday favorite. On Dec. 27, 2013 at the Benedum Center, there will be an autism-friendly performance. The entire theater will be reserved for families with individuals on the autism spectrum. The company will create a fully supportive environment, including designated quiet areas and activity stations in the lobby, adjustments to potentially startling light, sound and special effects, an illustrated guide and opportunities for the families to familiarize themselves with the production in advance of the performance. The house lights will remain dimly lit and audience members will be able to come and go as they please. “This is a performance where families can come as they are and be who they are,” said PBT Educational Director Alyssa Herzog Melby, who heads Accessibility Initiatives at PBT. “Whether they are looking for a new artistic experience, bonding time with their family or simply an escape into a magical world, we can offer all of that through this performance. We hope that we can become a model for other ballet companies across the country to open their doors to people on the autism spectrum, sharing the beauty of what we do with all people in our community.” By the way, there will be a PBT edition of No Menu Monday May 20 at Bar Marco in the Strip District. A guest chef will devise the menu, which will be served by company dancers. Food proceeds will benefit PBT’s autism-friendly Nutcracker.

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