Dance Beat: Brazzies, Wendy/Kyle, Julia, Alyssa

Gia Cacalano and James Washington with Leslie Anderson Braswell (seated)

Gia Cacalano and James Washington with Leslie Anderson Braswell (seated)

THE BRAZZIES. Greer Reed concluded her Reed Intensive performance this summer at the Father Ryan Center in McKees Rocks with a special award called the Brazzies. Named for Leslie Anderson Braswell, who performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem before coming home to mentor so many young dance hopefuls, the first winners are Gia Cacalano, improv queen and founder of Gia T. Presents, and James Washington, former member of August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble and budding choreographer. Congrats!

WENDY AND KYLE. The dance world has been abuzz with Wendy Whelan’s project, Restless Creature, and Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham’s participation. (Catch it in March at the Byham via Pittsburgh Dance Council.) Click on the New York Times feature and review.

Sonja, left, and Julia, center and right

Sonja, left, and Julia, center and right

ANOTHER SIDE OF JULIA. We’ve seen Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal Julia Erickson in luminous performances on stage. We’ve see her entrepreneurial spirit via her own health food bar, Barre, available at Whole Foods. Now, through the magic of Sonja Sweterlitsch’s portraiture, on view at Box Heart Gallery in Bloomfield through Sept. 17, we can seen Julia from yet another angle (or angles). Small and life-sized. The Swan Queen and the woman. All a softer interpretation without losing Julia’s always-glittering essence.

A STAR IS BORN. Yes, she’s at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, but this star is not a dancer. Alyssa Herzog Melby is a member of PBT’s talented young administrative staff. As PBT Director of Education and Community Engagement, she has not only been articulate about the ballets, but has promoted accessibility in a variety of new ways, including programs for the visually impaired, autism and, most recently, Parkinson’s disease. For her efforts, the Kennedy Center LEAD Awards for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership recognized her at the 2013 LEAD conference in Washington, D.C. Way to go, Alyssa!

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