Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hartwood Acres Welcomes Home Pbt

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hartwood Acres Welcomes Home Pbt

Article excerpt

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's summer performance at Hartwood Acres is usually a harbinger of things to come during the new season. But the company's appearance Thursday evening served a dual purpose this year in that it could be regarded as a welcome home party.

Assembling before the event under the striped tent with a tasty buffet by Big Black Grill, company members were still excited over the group's trip to Israel last week, with appearances at the Karmiel Dance Festival. The dancers lost count of the number of bows, putting it at "around 12."

The company brought back from the tour George Balanchine's "Sylvia Pas de Deux," rendered here by Julia Erickson and Alexandre Silva. Ms. Erickson was in fine form from the start, arching her back strongly in her arabesques. I love the way she looks at her partners, with a piercing gaze that is part challenging, part teasing, then turns to the audience and embraces us as well. Mr. Silva, however, was part sturdy aristocrat, part oddly casual, which translated to bent knees in his aerial tours. Ms. Erickson remained oblivious as she dazzled throughout the virtuosic number, culminating in a series of daring hops en pointe.

While the company didn't perform Dwight Rhoden's "Step Touch," the choreographer was still represented at Hartwood with an encore of "Chromatic," one of his best. It had its premiere in February at the August Wilson Center. Leave it to Mr. Rhoden to find a rash of contemporary elements in the Bach score, which was laden with futuristic modulations and a sense of anticipation. While "Chromatic" didn't have the benefit of Michael Korsch's gorgeous lighting design at Hartwood, that meant that the emphasis was thrown onto the choreography.

The ballet itself looked different in this altered state, allowing the audience to take in Mr. Rhoden's lean, dense movement in breathable gulps. …

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