Dance Beat: Kinzua Dam, West Point Ballet, Benjamin Millipied

January 4, 2017


KINZUA DAM. Thanks to more media coverage, celebrity support and the support of organizations like veterans, people are learning about the Indian plight at Standing Rock. But what we don’t remember is how the United States government has exerted force over Indian nations for a large part of our history, taking land that rightfully belonged to them. Western Pennsylvania has an Indian area that was flooded by the Kinzua Dam. The Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a hotspot for minority art, brought in a moving, heartfelt performance by Minneapolis’ Rosy Simas Danse. Rosy went to visit the Kinzua site, where her ancestors were forced to evacuate. Click on Kinzua Dam for a complete history. And from the Seneca Indians’ perspective remembering 50 years ago...

west-point-nutWEST POINT BALLET. The West Point Ballet, located in Coraopolis,d served notice that it is joining the upper tier of local dance studios. Only in its third year, it presented its own “Nutcracker,” showcasing the Cuban ballet style, so poetic and lyrical, and filled with those signature pirouettes that seem so effortless. WPB fielded at least half a dozen young women who distinguished themselves and has a growing contingent of young men that would be the envy of other schools. Congratulations to owners Cynthia Castillo, formerly with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and a graduate of the National Ballet of Cuba, and Damien M. Coro, formerly with PBT and the National Ballet of Cuba. Damien performed with the group alongside his twin brother, David, a former principal with the National Ballet of Cuba who is teaching at the Laurel Ballet with his wife, Vanessa Haider, also a former member of the National Ballet. Certainly their combined expertise will enrich the ballet community for many years to come.

peter-farmerPETER FARMER. World famous costume and scenery designer Peter Farmer passed away a few days ago. He worked on a number of productions at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, including the recent Giselle production this past fall. You can read about the process and his career from Janet Groom Campbell, good friend and PBT costumier, here.

BENJAMIN MILLIPIED.  For those who like a juicy ballet backstory, there is an upcoming documentary about Benjamin Millipied (famously the husband of movie star Natalie Porter) and his dramatically short tenure at the Paris Opera Ballet. Called Reset, it should hit movie theaters sometime in January.

DANCE LISTINGS. There’s not a lot happening in January with Pittsburgh dance (see Listings). What is happening?






On Stage: Attack-ing the Holidays

December 3, 2016


Take in Attack Theatre’s spirit-driven (holiday, uplifting, etc.) Unbolted. Click on Attack.

On Stage: Dance Africa

July 21, 2016

Dance Africa 01

Dance Africa’s Erin Perry and staff have put together a  rich look at traditional ethnic dance and more. It’s also a great opportunity for artists to immerse themselves in the sophisticated and alluring rhythms of West African and Caribbean drumming. And the marketplace — you can’t forget about that! Read about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

On Stage: Inside Women

July 9, 2016

ELISA MARIE FACESWe all know that women wear many faces while they perform many things — nurture children, run a home, hold down a job and create new and wonderful things. But it’s great to see younger women realizing this, as in Elisa-Marie Alaio’s feminist-inspired Eff.Ul.Gents. Read about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

On Stage: Dance Recitals 2016

June 22, 2016
Wexford Dance Academy

Wexford Dance Academy

Congratulations to all the dance studios in the Pittsburgh area for another stellar year. Dance Showcase made its recital Destination Dance, while West Point Ballet followed the yellow brick road to its own destination with a new production of The Wizard of Oz.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, meanwhile, performed an encore of one of my favorites, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and created a selection of dances for the various class levels around the music from The Sleeping Beauty. And Movements in Dance took a Step Right Up, along with guest artist Sophie Silnicki, a student at San Francisco Ballet.
Carnegie Performing Arts Center may have named its recital Sugar and Spice. That could also apply to graduates Megan Blackwell, who will attend Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh for Business, and Adrienne Elion, who will go to Shenandoah University in Virginia for Dance. Wonder which is which?
And Wexford Dance Academy had a versatile recital with not only the signature classic, Paquita, but a Rhinoceros Tap. The graduating seniors are versatile as well: Haley Raphael, Hamilton College, Biochemistry, Dance minor; Natalie Gardinier, Ohio State University, Biology (pre-med), Dance minor; Morgan Beaver, Case Western, Business Management; Kyra Launcher, Butler University academic scholarship in the Butler Honors Program, Dance Performance & Ballet, Art & Design and French minors.

April 30-May 1: Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh, Independence Middle School in Bethel Park, 412-343-9333. or

May 12-14: Chartiers Valley High School Performing Arts Department, Chartiers Valley High School, 412-429-3712 or

May 13-15: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Pre-Professional Showcase, George Roland White Performance Studio at Point Park University, 412-281-6727 or

May 14: Dancing Classrooms, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School,

May 21: Sandra Lynn’s School of Dance, Franklin Regional High School, 412-287-0515 or

May 22: The Dance Company for the Performing Arts, West Mifflin Area High School, 412-672-2200 or

May 21-22: The Thomas Studio of Performing Arts, West Allegheny High School, 412-257-2000 or

May 17: Dance Showcase (Jeffrey and Reserve), Shaler Area High School, 412-860-7764 or

May 20-21: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Byham Theater, 412-456-6666 or http://

May 21: Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Byham Theater, 724-969-6000 or

May 21: Sandra Lynn’s School of Dance,Franklin Regional High School, 412-287-0515 or

May 22: Movements in Dance, East Fairmont High School, West Virginia, 304-288-3081.

May 26-27: West Point Ballet, Pittsburgh Masonic Center, 412-872-8325 or

May 29-30: Dance Showcase (Jeffrey), Shaler High School, 412-512-1187 or

May 28: Allegro Ballet, Greater Pittsburgh Masonic Center, 412-973-5500, or

May 29: The Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, Shady Side Academy, 412-344-3900 or

Wexford Dance Academy

Wexford Dance Academy


June 4: Larry Cervi School of Performing Arts, Norwin High School, 412-856-7713 or

June 4-5: Carnegie Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Library & Music Hall in Carnegie, 412-279-8887 or

June 4-5: Dance Workshop By Shari, Upper St. Clair High School, 412-884-5099 or

June 4-5: Karen Prunzik’s Broadway Performing Arts, Carlynton High School Auditorium, 412-920-1841 or

June 4-5: The Thomas Studio of Performing Arts Petite Performer Recital, Chartiers Valley Intermediate School, 412-257-2000 or

June 5: Wexford Dance Academy, Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, 724-934-9233 or

June 6: Lisa DiGorio School of Dance, Pleasant Hills Presbyterian Church, 412-650-9986 or

June 10: Dance Factory, Jeannette Senior High School, 724-527-6190 or

June 11: Laurel Ballet, The Palace Theater in Greensburg, 724-837-7776 or

June 11-12: Arena’s Performing Arts Centre, Moon Area High School, 412-264-9925 or

June 11-12: Ken and Jean Dance Studio, Norwin High School, 412-823-2753 or

June 17-18: Kickline Dance Center, Baldwin High School, 724-941-9839 or

June 17-18: Starlight Dance Academy, Deer Lakes High School, 412-767-0400 or

June 18-19: Michele’s Dance Center, North Catholic High School, 412-366-4134 or

June 25: Mary Ann & Company Dance Studio, West Mifflin Area High School, 412-461-7229 or

June 26: Cynthia’s School of Dance and Music, Carson Middle School, 412-418-7498 or

On Street: Spawning an Ellipses Condition

June 8, 2016

ELLIPSES CHALK DRIZZLEPearlann Porter and John Lambert threw out a colorful and meticulous tease of their fall series of events designed to puzzle and delight onlookers in Downtown Pittsburgh. Pearlann talked about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and John apparently chalked himself into, not a corner, but a circle or two (with some help, I assume) along Strawberry Way. Were they the thought pockets in question?

ellipses close-up of john in circleellipses circles

On Stage: Stephen Petronio Brings RainForest Home

May 7, 2016

The Pittsburgh Dance Council season comes to a close with a performance of Merce Cunningham’s historic work, RainForest. For those of you who think that there are a lot of silver clouds just floating around, the Petronio company has to apply formally to use the exhibit that is usually on display at the Andy Warhol Museum. Read more in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.