Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: Distinction and Delight [REVIEW]

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Open Air: A Series in Celebration of the Performing Arts
Programs A and B
May 21 and 22, 2021

Flagstaff Hill at Schenley Park
Pittsburgh, PA

Amanda Cochrane and Lucius Kirst in Aszure Barton’s “Awáa”. Photo by Rich Sofranko

Steve Sucato

As the hosts of the much-anticipated “Open Air: A Series in Celebration of the Performing Arts,” Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) gave audiences a heaping helping of the kind of repertory new artistic director Susan Jaffe will be bringing to the company going forward — a mix of ballet classics and those by some of today’s most intriguing choreographers, many of whom will be new to Pittsburgh audiences.

For the two-week Open Air festival featuring some 20 local arts groups (plus a few imports), PBT’s own offerings for the festival came in the form of two mostly different programs. Program A capped Open Air’s first day of performances, Thursday, May 21, and Program B, its second, Friday, May 22.

On their newly purchased and impressively large state-of-the-art portable outdoor stage, PBT kicked off Program A with an excerpt from the Act III “Jewels” section of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty (1890). Danced to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s music for the ballet, a trio of women as fairies in sparkling tutus and tiaras opened the ballet with a flurry of classical dancing that was staged for them by company répétiteur Marianna Tcherkassky. Standing out was a brisk and bubbly solo by company soloist Tommie Lin Kesten whose radiant smile, precise footwork, and pointing arm gestures energized the audience.

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