Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Le Corsair" - Pirate Saga Done Ballet-Style

 Christopher Budzynski with wife and fellow principal dancer, Alexandra Kochis
    Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s season finale “Le Corsaire” with the PBT Orchestra has all the essentials of a pirate saga: kidnapping, mutiny and shipwreck, all told through a torrent of bravura dancing. The Russian classic closes PBT’s 2015-2016 Season April 15-17, at the Benedum Center.

    It’s the 19th-century tale of the pirate, Conrad, and his quest to liberate Medora, the woman that both he and the powerful Pasha, Seyd, love. Through mutiny, abductions and rescue missions, this underlying love story moors the plot line. Above all, “Le Corsaire” entertains with an unrestrained display of virtuosic dancing, which especially spotlights the company’s male dancers.

    The production is large and exotic – more than 70 performers will fill the colorful seaside bazaars and lush gardens of a place near Turkey. The choreography is a dancer’s dream – grand Russian ballet with plenty of opportunities for technical fireworks. Famous scenes include the corps of ballerinas in the dreamlike “Jardin Animé” and the pyrotechnics of the famous pas de trois between Medora, Conrad and Ali, where the ballerina mesmerizes with pinpoint turns and the male wows with huge leaps.

    “This production is a huge Russian classic and it’s also great fun. It’s an honor to work with Anna-Marie Holmes, who has staged ballets all over the world, and has expertly refined the scope of this work and filled it out with even bigger dancing than before,” said PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr. “It brings out the sharpest technical talents in our dancers as well as their dramatic flair. And, it gives our male dancers, especially, a chance to take the spotlight and unleash the strength of their dancing.”

    Loosely based on Lord Byron’s epic poem “Le Corsaire” (1814), the ballet premiered in 1856 at the Paris Opera with original choreography by Joseph Mazilier. In 1899, Marius Petipa re-choreographed it for the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, and it’s this version that has inspired PBT’s and other adaptations. The production features choreography after Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev, staging by Anna-Marie Holmes and a score composed by Adolphe Adam and enriched by excerpts from numerous composers, including Cesare Pugni, Prince Oldenberg, Leo Delibes and Riccardo Drigo.

    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.

Performance Times
Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m.

PBT Connects Discussion Series
Free to all performance patrons

Afterthoughts: Friday, April 15, at 10:30 p.m.; Benedum Center
Join Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and Anna-Marie Holmes, guest stager for Le Corsaire, for a post-performance discussion.

*Insights: Saturday, April 16, at 7 p.m.; Benedum Center
Join Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and Maestro Charles Barker, PBT Music Director and Principal Conductor, for a performance preview.

Talks with Terry: Sunday, April 17, at 1 p.m.; Benedum Center
Watch company dancers take their onstage warm-up class, and talk with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr about the production.

Audio-Described Performance: Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m.; Benedum Center
Sign out a headset to listen to live narration of the ballet (designed for visually impaired patrons). Headsets available at Guest Services Center with photo ID.

*RSVPs suggested. Please email or call 412-454-9109.

About PBT’s 2016-2017 Season
PBT returns to the main-stage in October with a redesigned production of “Giselle” (Oct. 28-30) and a series that continues with “The Nutcracker” (Dec. 2-27), “Alice in Wonderland” (Feb. 10-19), PBT and Dance Theatre of Harlem (March 17-26) and the North American premiere of Derek Deane’s “Romeo and Juliet” (April 21-23). Subscription packages start at $81 and are available at or by calling 412-454-9107. Single ticket sales open Aug. 22

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