Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Johnny Cash Cover Songs Featured in PBT's Mixed Repertory

The Man in Black Artist: Alejandro Diaz Photo by: Duane Rieder

    Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s March mixed repertory program features four works with distinct voices – ranging from the gravelly vocals of Johnny Cash to the millennial edge of PBT’s own Principal Yoshiaki Nakano, who’ll be the first PBT dancer to debut main-stage work in Terrence S. Orr’s directorship.
    Onstage March 10-13, at the Byham Theater, Mixed Repertory #2 features (in program order): Antony Tudor’s “Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden),” Michael Smuin’s “Eternal Idol,” James Kudelka’s “The Man in Black,” and Yoshiaki Nakano’s “A Fellow Feeling.” Three of the works are Pittsburgh premieres; PBT last performed “Jardin Aux Lilas” in 2013.
    “Three of these ballets are plotless, but they all have strong emotional overtones,” said Terrence S. Orr, PBT artistic director. “I think audiences will be very moved by this collection of works – the honesty of ‘The Man in Black,’ tenderness of ‘The Eternal Idol,’ drama of ‘Jardin Aux Lilas,’ and energy of ‘A Fellow Feeling.’ We’re also incredibly proud to debut work by one of our own: Yoshiaki Nakano. He’s a bright talent, and we’ve all enjoyed being part of his creative process.” 
     Canadian choreographer James Kudelka puts ballet dancers in cowboy boots for “The Man in Black” (2010) set to six of Cash’s later covers: “Four Strong Winds,” “Further on up the Road,” “Hurt,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “In My Life” and “Sam Hall.” Four dancers – three male, one female – project moods ranging from the defiance of the folk song “Sam Hall” to the melancholy of “Hurt.” Kudelka pulls from country-western dance styles – line, square, swing and step – to lend a colloquial character to the choreography. The work is a celebration of American working-class grit, a montage of poetic images that provide a stripped-down expression of the human spirit: at once proud, independent, vulnerable and resilient.
    For his “Eternal Idol,” Michael Smuin’s (1938-2007) muse was French artist Auguste Rodin’s sculpture of embracing male and female figures. Created in 1969 for American Ballet Theatre, Smuin breathes life, and a sense of yearning, into the work with a sensuous pas de deux set to Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor. Flesh-toned unitards by Marcos Paredes accentuate the sculptural lines and sinuous partnering. 

Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden)

Artists: Alexandra Kochis & Luca Sbrizzi
Photo by: Rich Sofranko
  In Antony Tudor’s (1908-1987) “Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden)” (1936), lilac branches frame a mini period drama revolving around the repressed romance between Caroline and the man she loves and her strained relationship with the man she must marry. Tudor, one of the giants of 20th century choreography, is known for delving into psychological themes in his dances. “Jardin Aux Lilas” is considered one of his most important works. The intention ingrained in every gesture, step and glance demands a nuanced reading of each character. As opposed to more fanciful ballet subject matter, repetiteur Donald Mahler noted, “the people and motivations are real – there’s an honesty in doing Tudor.”
    Representing a different demographic, PBT Principal Yoshiaki Nakano presents the main-stage premiere of his full “A Fellow Feeling,” a neoclassical work for nine couples set to Mozart's Concerto No. 20 in D Minor. Audiences saw the first movement at PBT’s August “Ballet Under the Stars” at Hartwood Acres, but Byham patrons will be the first to see the work in its entirety with new costumes designed by PBT Costumier Janet Groom Campbell. Nakano is the first company dancer to debut main-stage work during the 19-year tenure of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr.
    Tickets start at $28, and are available at , 412-456-6666 or the Box Office at Theater Square. Groups of 10 or more can save up to 50 percent on tickets by emailing or calling 412-454-9101.

Eternal Idol Artists: Gabrielle Thurlow & Alejandro Diaz
Photo by: Duane Rieder

Performance Dates & Times
Thurs., March 10, at 8 p.m.
Friday, March 11, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 12, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m.
PBT Connects Discussion Series
Free to all performance patrons
Afterthoughts – 10:30 p.m. Friday, March 11; Byham Theater
Join Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and artists for a post-performance discussion.
*Insights – 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12; Byham Theater
Join Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and company artists for a performance preview.
Talks with Terry – 1 p.m. Sunday, March 13; Byham Theater

Watch company dancers take their onstage warm-up class, and preview the production with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr.

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