Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chautauqua Experience Boosts Pbt Performance

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chautauqua Experience Boosts Pbt Performance

Article excerpt

What a difference a performance makes.

At Hartwood Acres there was a pervading drizzle for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's annual season opener on Sunday, although much of the hardy and supportive audience remained for the end. But just three days later, PBT had perfect weather at Chautauqua Institution in New York to complete the company's first outdoor doubleheader.

The program was virtually the same -- Mark Morris' "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes," Dwight Rhoden's "Step Touch" and "Peasant Pas de Deux," with Antony Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas" added to the mix in Chautauqua.

But the feeling was different. Certainly the weather could have played a part, but the company seemed genuinely enthralled by its day trip to Chautauqua's lovely Victorian setting by the lake.

"Drink to Me" was the stalwart feature of the two programs, with both audiences appreciative of Mr. Morris' sophisticated use of the Virgil Thomson score for solo piano, both classical and modern at the same time, and given a decisive interpretation by company pianist Yoland Collin.

That may be due to the fact that the company has become more familiar with the bubbling rhythmic syncopations, sometimes as engagingly simple as plie and releve, along with the underlying whimsy, braced with leaps that bound around the stage like giggling rapids. And they have begun to embrace the poetic twist at the end, where the title song gives the movement a moonlit aura.

Just back from the Beijing Ballet Competition, where he took the gold medal, Yoshiaki Nakano was brimming with confidence in the tango-esque section, marked with snapping, bullish poses. He was also featured in the "Peasant Pas de Deux" with the charming Amanda Cochrane. There he showed how much he has grown into his height since last season, looking more refined and graciously authoritative, with vertical aerial turns that descended into the most miraculously deep plies.

"Jardin" was a thoughtful selection for the Chautauquan environment, established in 1878 and once a living example of the era that Tudor eschewed in this 1936 balletic masterwork. …

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