Mixed Repertory Production Brings Cutting-Edge Female Choreographers’ Work to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
By Jenna Bodnar
PITTSBURGH, PA – Cutting-edge voices in dance will take center stage at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center March 24 – 27 at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) Here + Now. Featuring a lineup of internationally acclaimed — and all female — choreographers, this evocative mixed repertory production showcases the beauty and innovation of contemporary ballet. Please note that all audience members must adhere to the venue’s COVID-19 policies, which can be found at aacc-awc.org/covid-19-policies.
The show starts with the world premiere of SKIN + saltwater, created by local choreographer Staycee R. Pearl during her 2019 choreographic residency for PBT. This moving and dramatic piece is the first work by an African-American woman to be commissioned by PBT. Pearl’s husband Herman “Soy Sos” composed the original score for this work, an imagining of the journey beyond worldly limitations. Pearl says, “SKIN + saltwater imagines an elemental love story extending beyond time and the human condition.” 2019-2020 Season PBT Artist in Residence, Staycee Pearl, was sponsored by Arts, Equity, & Education Fund.
Audiences will delight at Gemma Bond’s Depuis le Jour, a romantic pas de deux set to an aria by French composer Gustave Charpentier. The aria comes from Charpentier’s opera Louise and describes the singer’s overwhelming joy from being in love. Bond’s expressive choreography allows the dancers to convey the characters’ strong emotions, captivating audiences with their love story.
Experience the depth of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s intimate La Pluie. Lopez Ochoa is a sought after and prolific choreographer who has created works for 70 dance companies around the world and PBT is thrilled to bring her work back to Pittsburgh. Set to the first aria of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the angular and off-center, yet extremely fluid choreography of La Pluie (which means “the rain” in French) emulates falling raindrops and showcases classical technique with contemporary twists. Audiences will be entranced by the dancers as their bodies swirl around one another with a connection that evokes interdependence.
Revisit the excitement of Three — 4, 6, 8, an original trio by award-winning choreographer Helen Pickett with music by Philip Glass. Pickett, who has created over 50 works, delights in the possibilities of human beings. This piece first charmed audiences during PBT’s annual performance at Hartwood Acres in August 2021 and PBT is excited to bring it back into the spotlight. This highly energized, architectural and kinetic contemporary dance features three men and focuses on each dancer so they can dazzle the audience with their personality and technique. Three — 4, 6, 8 is rich and complex while embracing camaraderie, competition and community, a hallmark of Pickett’s work and style.
Finally, audiences will delight at Bright progressions, an energetic new work by Aszure Barton. Barton is an internationally acclaimed choreographer who has been described as an innovator of form. She is fascinated by the intelligence of the human body and loves collaboration. “If I can facilitate a space where the artists can experience joy together through creation, it is really the best thing in the world,” says Barton. “Bright progressions is rhythmic, groovy, delightful and delicious.” This new work is sponsored by Elizabeth B. Yntema in support of female leadership and creativity in ballet.
Single tickets start at $29 and are available at pbt.org or by calling 412-456-6666. Groups of 10 or more save at pbt.org/groups. Find a full list of performance times at pbt.org/here-now. Here + Now is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
All guests must adhere to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s COVID-19 protocols, which requires that all guests over the age of 5 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine must be fully vaccinated and will be required to show proof of full vaccination. There is no option to provide a negative COVID-19 test in lieu of vaccination. In addition, all guests ages 2 and up are required to wear an N95 or kN95 mask at all times while inside the facility unless actively eating or drinking. More detailed information is available at aacc-awc.org/covid-19-policies.
Audience members are invited to join PBT online and at the theater for a series of pre- and post-show programs for even deeper engagement with the show. Find a full listing here.
About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has been Pittsburgh’s premier professional ballet company since 1969. Today, PBT is a nationally recognized ballet company of 30 professional dancers, a training institution for over 1,200 students of all ages, and an incubator for education and accessibility programs in classrooms, libraries and community centers throughout the region. The company performs a wide-ranging repertoire of classical ballets, contemporary masterworks and new commissions in more than 50.