Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Moulin' a Challenge for Pbt Dancers

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Moulin' a Challenge for Pbt Dancers

Article excerpt

Be whisked away to the city of romance, without leaving Pittsburgh.

This Valentine's Day weekend, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will present the local premiere of "Moulin Rouge -- The Ballet" at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

"It's a beautiful ballet, and it's of course set in turn-of-the century Paris, and it is the Moulin Rouge, the most famous cabaret," says artistic director Terrence S. Orr.

Although the ballet is new to Pittsburgh, choreographer Jorden Morris is not. He choreographed PBT's 2011 production of "Peter Pan" and created "Moulin Rouge -- The Ballet" for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which debuted it in 2009 with strong box office sales. The ballet also has enjoyed success on tour. PBT has seen such steady ticket demand that it added a Saturday matinee to the schedule.

"From pointe shoes to almost character dancing to the tango to very theatrical stuff, there's a lot of stuff for people to see and absorb," Mr. Morris says.

The ballet follows the roller coaster romance of struggling artist Matthew and launderette-turned-performer Nathalie. Passion, heartache and rivalry ensue, especially once Moulin Rouge proprietor Zidler grows increasingly infatuated with Nathalie.

"It's a spectrum of emotions," says soloist Luca Sbrizzi, who will perform as Matthew.

Others cast in the role are principal Christopher Budzynski and corps de ballet member Nicholas Coppula. Principals Christine Schwaner and Alexandra Kochis and corps dancer Caitlin Peabody will take turns as Nathalie.

The ballet is a pas de deux of historical fact and fiction, with some characters who are inspired by real people and others whom Mr. Morris made up.

"I worked in Paris a few times and went back and did some more in- depth study on the culture and what was happening in the arts community at that time," Mr. Morris says. "I spent a lot of time researching the actual Moulin Rouge itself. …

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