Pittsburgh Ballet Theater streams Bolero performance | Dance | Pittsburgh

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Photo: Kelly Perkovitch

Soloist Tommie Lin Kesten performs with dancers at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.

A sober and moderate music gives the ballet of Maurice Ravel of 1928 Bolero an unpretentious start, giving the choreographers the opportunity to work in the increasing energy and intensity of the piece. And in seven sold-out performances earlier this year at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Sculptures room, that’s exactly what Pittsburgh Ballet Theater artistic director Susan Jaffe did.

From April 5 to 11, a recording of these February performances will be released for free, along with a guided tour of the artwork in the hall, as the premiere of PBT’s virtual spring lineup.

Bolero is an orchestral piece in one movement that lasts approximately 15 minutes. The repetition in the music is built over the course of the ballet, both in the instrumentation and in the choreography. Originally commissioned by Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, it is often performed as a purely orchestral piece, which makes Jaffe’s choreography even more important to watch.

Prior to becoming artistic director of PBT, Jaffe danced for the American Ballet Theater as a principal dancer for 22 years and also performed internationally, including with the Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet and the English National Ballet. As a choreographer, she has created works for ABT, the Grand Rapid Ballet’s Move Media and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Click to enlarge Grace Rookstool jumps in front of the dancers of the PBT company.  - PHOTO: KELLY PERKOVITCH

Photo: Kelly Perkovitch

Grace Rookstool jumps in front of the dancers of the PBT company.

Now, for PBT, her choreography fills the sculpture room with dancers in monochrome black and red costumes, designed by Janet Marie Campbell. The bright, open space of the hall and the white marble contrast sharply with the dancers, whose lively and spirited movements also juxtapose the reproductions of Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman sculptures that line the second-floor balcony.

In addition to the ballet performance itself, Akemi May, assistant curator of fine arts at the Carnegie Museum of Art, offers a guided tour of the works of art in the hall. A Q&A recorded with PBT Music Director Charles Barker is also available for those who wish to learn more about Ravel’s ballet.

To register and have free access to the show and the guided tour, go to pbt.org/performances/bolero.


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