PBT School’s Spring Performances Blend Old and New

After the curtain comes down on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 2018-19 season, a new one rises to showcase the talented dancers of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School for the School’s annual Pre-professional Showcase and Spring Performance. On May 17-19, PBT School’s Pre-professional students perform in Point Park University’s George Howland White Performance Studio, and from May 24-25, students from the pre-ballet division up share the Byham Theater stage in the culmination of a year’s worth of training.

A stunning production of classical and neoclassical work lies in store, complete with a few new surprises. Audiences can look forward to a diverse repertoire, including choreography from company dancers Yoskiaki Nakano and Jessica McCann, says graduate student Jack Hawn.

“We’re doing Raymonda,” Hawn said, “which is purely classical. And then Yoshi is choreographing his pieces more neoclassical, still with the structure in classical music. And then Jess’ choreography is very contemporary, very experimental movement.”

For the first time, a hip-hop piece, choreographed by PBT faculty Gino Vaccaro, will be including in the Pre-professional Showcase.

“It’s exciting that as the school we get to experience that kind of program.”

Students performing Vaccaro’s hip-hop dance.
Photo: Nicole Sauter

Hawn will be performing the lead role in Raymonda opposite fellow Graduate student Allison Durand, bookending both of their student careers before joining the PBT company in the 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-2020.

“So much of this year for us is revolved around auditions and stressing about where we are going be next year,” Durand said. “And so I’ve always just been looking forward to the day of the Showcase because I just knew I’m going to know what’s happening next year. I’m going to be able to breathe.”

Allie Durand rehearsing “Divertimento No. 15.” Balanchine choreography © The George Balanchine Trust
Photo: Nicole Sauter

Durand, Hawn and the rest of the Graduate students will be performing in both the Pre-professional Showcase and the Spring Performance. The Spring Performance will feature over 200 students from preparatory ballet through the Graduate Level. Students will get to perform a wide range of choreography, from Balanchine to Petipa and works by PBT School Faculty.

Dancers from the student division – pre-ballet through Level V – will all take the stage together for a tremendous performance of “Carnival of the Animals,” choreographed by Student Division Principal Eun Young Ahn set to the humorous musical suite by famed French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.

Brining such diverse choreography and such a wide range of experience to the stage is no easy feat. It’s the mark of hard work of students and faculty that sets the Spring shows apart and makes the Pre-professional Showcase and the Spring Performance possible.

“I hope people make it out to see it,” Hawn said. “It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it for many, many months and there are some really talented people dancing in this show and some really talented choreographers and teachers working on it as well. It will be a real treat.”

See PBT School’s Pre-Professional Showcase May 17-19 at Point Park University and don’t miss the Spring Performance May 24-25 at the Byham Theater.