Kristine Sorensen, a trim, stylish KDKA-TV anchor, calmly walks into the studio. But instead of sitting down at a news desk, she begins warming up next to a ballet barre at Bodiography studios in Squirrel Hill.
It's no fluke -- Ms. Sorensen was a serious ballet student in high school and her passion for dance has anchored her through various television news positions, including Johnson City, Tenn., where she taught dance to underprivileged Appalachian children, and Dallas. She also kept up her classes during her first stint in Pittsburgh (with WTAE) and through her return, a marriage to investigative reporter Marty Griffin and the births of three children, Sophia, 7, Chloe, 5, and Vincent, 2.
But her family has never seen her perform on a dance stage. Now with the help of Bodiography artistic director Maria Caruso, Ms. Sorensen will perform a solo in the company's upcoming program, "Multiplicity," on Saturday at the Byham Theater, Downtown.
At age 5, she was "your typical girl" who "loved the beauty of the ballet," she says. Even then, she was a dedicated multitasker, trying her hand at jazz dance, high school musicals and the school newspaper. By age 16, the budding ballerina was dedicated to the Southern Ballet Theatre -- now Orlando Ballet -- in Florida.
Her teachers wanted her to quit high school and pursue a professional ballet career, but the enterprising teenager also harbored a love of writing and landed a job as an intern at a local CBS station. It turned her life, and she chose to pursue a broadcasting career.
The balancing act continued when she headed for The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., majoring in government and minoring in dance, this time exploring the contemporary side of things. She also joined a student performing group, Orchesis. By her senior year, Ms. Sorensen was president of the ensemble and was awarded a solo.
Northwestern University lured her to Chicago, where she attended classes at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago while earning a master's degree in journalism. Before she left, she did a TV feature for her end project. The topic? The impact of The Joffrey Ballet's arrival on Hubbard Street.
After bouncing around various news markets, she settled in Pittsburgh almost 10 years ago. Now Ms. Sorensen sneaks a 1:45 p.m. ballet class at Point Park University into her schedule.
"So it's me and the teenagers," she jokes. "Which is funny because they probably don't watch the news." By the end of the quarter, someone always figures it out and that's OK with her.
"[Dance is] so much a part of me," she explains. "I feel like I'm missing something if I'm not doing it. When I get in a class, everything else goes away, I mean, the craziness of the kids, the stress of work. All of a sudden, I'm back to this pure form of movement [where] I can connect with my soul."
Ms. Sorensen tries to connect not only with dance, but with the rest of the arts through her roles at KDKA, both as reporter/anchor and host of "Pittsburgh Today Live."
So why make that leap back to the stage?
She met Ms. Caruso while reporting on Bodiography's premiere on regenerative medicine, "108 Minutes," in 2011. Upon learning that the newscaster took ballet classes, she invited her to attend a class before the interview. When Ms. Caruso saw that Ms. Sorensen had a strong technical foundation, she suggested taking it a step further. At first the petite anchor hesitated.
"I didn't want to do it unless I was able to give 100 percent, something that was on par with the level of the company."
Then she realized that, although she often twirled around the house and helped her girls with ballet, tap and Irish dance, they could better share her love of dance if they saw her perform on stage.
"I realized that dance is not just technique," she says. "Being older now, I think I have a lot more to give. I have a lot more confidence in who I am and am able to express it a lot more."
For "Multiplicity," Ms. Caruso wanted company members and selected guests to create the choreography. Her piece is "Parlour," a work dedicated to the memory of her grandmother that harnesses feelings of isolation and grief. She asked Ms. Sorensen to work with her. So this dedicated multitasker took on another project. Somehow the two women found room in their schedules to create the piece.
Now Ms. Sorensen gets up at 5:30 a.m. to do a yoga warm-up and practice the solo in the basement of her Mt. Lebanon home. Then she attends to her children and gets ready for her morning television show. Like a good piece of choreography, all of the pieces will fall into place, just as long as she makes room for the dance.
Former Post-Gazette critic Jane Vranish can be reached at email@example.com. She also blogs at pittsburghcrosscurrents.com.