Pittsburgh Ballet’s annual Ballet Under the Stars returns | Dance + Live Performance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Pittsburgh Ballet’s annual Ballet Under the Stars returns

Hartwood Acres showcase includes The Man in Black and a world premiere

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Where Pittsburgh PrideFest’s annual dance showcase signals the beginning of the local summer dance season, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s annual Ballet Under the Stars program at Hartwood Acres ushers in its end.

The free outdoor performance on Sun., Aug. 21, part of Allegheny County’s Summer Concert series, continues PBT’s trend of reviving works from the previous season. The company will reprise former National Ballet of Canada artistic director James Kudelka’s The Man in Black, set to six cover songs recorded by Johnny Cash, including his achingly beautiful rendition of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt.”

Also being reprised are excerpts of the swashbuckling classical ballet Le Corsaire (“The Pirate”), set to music by Adolphe Adam and others. Excerpts include Act I’s “Pas d’Esclave” and Act II’s pas de trois featuring the slave Ali’s variation made famous by Nureyev.

Completing the program will be the world premiere of five-year company member Cooper Verona’s “brood.” It’s the 24-year-old’s second commission for the company. The first, “Walking With,” was performed by PBT in May, at Seton Hill University. The new 20-minue ballet for a dozen dancers is set to music by Balkan composers and has a loose narrative about a group of people who communicate through body language and movement. Says Verona: “It explores the good and bad of family life and being a part of a larger group.”

Ballet Under the Stars will also introduce dancegoers to new corps de ballet member Yuto Ideno, a former dancer with now defunct Silicon Valley Ballet, and three new company apprentices plucked from PBT School’s graduate program. They are: Mexico City native Daniela Moya; Marshall, Texas, native Amanda Potts; and Clevelander Victoria Watford. 

Watford, 20, will dance the role of a pirate in Le Corsaire. “My character is supposed to have fun, but in a mean pirate way,” she says.

In other roster changes, soloists Hannah Carter, Alejandro Diaz and Luca Sbrizzi were promoted to the rank of principal, and the company said goodbye to dancers Caitlin Peabody, Casey Taylor, Molly Wright and Michaela King. Also, popular principal dancer Christopher Budzynski will retire from PBT after the company kicks off its 48th season with a newly redesigned production of Giselle (with live orchestra), Oct. 28-30 at the Benedum Center.

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