PBT season to mix premieres, favorites

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For more than four decades, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has built its reputation in the dance world on a repertoire that not only preserves classics but also dares to be different.

For the troupe's 2014-15 season -- its 45th anniversary -- it has planned hallmark ballets, the annual "Nutcracker" production and Pittsburgh premieres. The lineup was announced Wednesday evening at a reception for PBT subscribers, supporters, trustees and artists at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

"Because it's the 45th year, we would like to make something special," says artistic director Terrence Orr.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre 2014-15 season
• “The Sleeping Beauty” with the orchestra, Oct. 24-26.
• “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 5-28.
• “Beauty and the Beast,” Feb. 6-15, 2015.
• “PBT at the Byham,” Byham Theater, March 19-22, 2015.
• “La Bayadere” with the PBT orchestra, April 17-19, 2015.
Where: Performances will be at the Benedum Center, unless otherwise indicated.
Tickets: Season packages start at $69; or 412-454-9107. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 2 for prices starting at $27.

The season will open with a reprisal of "The Sleeping Beauty," last performed in 2009. Choreography by 19th-century artist Marius Petipa brings the fairy tale to the stage, and the PBT orchestra will play the Tchaikovsky score.

"It's very popular," Mr. Orr says. "It's one of the great ballets."

In time for the holidays the company will bring back a community favorite, its Pittsburgh-flavored "Nutcracker." For the first time, there will be a performance on Christmas Eve, Mr. Orr says. There also will be another autism-friendly adaptation of the show this year at 2 p.m. Dec. 23.

"We had such success with the autism-friendly performance" when it debuted in 2013, he says, with up to 900 people in attendance. "I'm pushing for us to make this an annual affair."

To begin the new year, PBT will present in February 2015 for the first time the full-length story ballet "Beauty and the Beast" by Lew Christensen of San Francisco Ballet. When Mr. Orr was part of the company under Mr. Christensen's direction he had the opportunity to dance in the work. It is set to music by Tchaikovsky.

"I loved it," he says. "It's a wonderful ballet."

The yearly mixed repertory program in March 2015 will return to Byham Theater after a few years at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. The intimate venue will spotlight dancers' versatility and technique in works such as Dwight Rhoden's classical-meets-contemporary piece "7th Heaven," which he created for PBT in 2001.

The season will close with another Pittsburgh premiere, "La Bayadere" by Petipa accompanied by the PBT orchestra. PBT has performed the ballet's famed "Kingdom of the Shades" scene, but next year will mark its first full-length staging of it and its Ludwig Minkus score.

Set in imperial India, the dance dissects a love triangle involving a temple dancer.

"It's one of those ballets that major ballet companies of the world do," Mr. Orr says. "It takes all of the soloists, corps and principals to make it really good to get it done, and I feel we have the best company we've ever had."

Season ticket packages will start at $69 and can be purchased at or 412-454-9107. Single tickets can be purchased beginning in September starting at $27.

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