Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will unofficially open its 2013-14 season Sunday when the company presents its annual "Ballet Under the Stars" free performance at Hartwood Acres.
Audiences will be treated to revivals of Dwight Rhoden's "Step Touch" (2009) featuring doo-wop era tunes and Mark Morris' "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" (1988; piano etudes by Virgil Thomson), which PBT premiered in Pittsburgh in March at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
Dancing the evening's featured pas de deux from "Giselle" will be Amanda Cochrane and Yoshiaki Nakano, who won a gold medal in the 19-to-26-year-old senior division at this year's Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition, which attracts competitors from around the world.
The following week, PBT will bring some of these pieces, as well as Antony Tudor's "Jardin Aux Lilas," to the Chautauqua Institution in New York for a performance.
When the company takes the stage, it will be accompanied by four dancers new to PBT this season.
"I'm always looking for dancers who have a classical background but also can do contemporary work," said artistic director Terrence Orr. "That's what we do. It's very important."
He recognized these traits in Ruslan Mukhambetkaliyev, Hannah Carter and William Moore, additions to the corps de ballet, and Diana Yohe, who will join as an apprentice after time with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School's graduate program.
Mr. Orr has been monitoring Ms. Yohe's growth for a while, encouraging her full-time training with the graduate program.
"She performed with us during the year and did extremely well," he said, including parts in mainstage productions "Cinderella," "Giselle," "The Nutcracker," "Moulin Rouge -- The Ballet" and George Balanchine's "Serenade." Summer intensive programs at San Francisco Ballet, the Juilliard School and Cincinnati Ballet supplemented her training.
Two of the new members will be coming from England. Ms. Carter and Mr. Moore graduated with honors from The Royal Ballet School in London and have experience with such classics as "Swan Lake," "Coppelia" and "Romeo and Juliet." Ms. Carter also was part of Estonian National Ballet's corps de ballet.
Mr. Mukhambetkaliyev is a native of Kazakhstan who studied at Almaty Ballet Academy. Abroad, he has danced professionally with Moscow City Ballet and the Russian National Ballet. His U.S. credits include time with the Tulsa and Cincinnati ballets. At PBT, he will join his cousin, principal Nurlan Abougaliev.
"I think we're feeling very strong this year," Mr. Orr said.
Leaving PBT this year are corps dancers Kaori Yanagida, a three-year member, and Makoto Ono, who danced for eight years with the company. After some injuries and operations, he returns to his home country of Japan to become a ballet master, Mr. Orr said.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will open its mainstage season Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center, Downtown, with "An Evening of Twyla Tharp." Season subscriptions can be purchased at 412-454-9107 or www.pbt.org. Single tickets will go on sale Sept. 3.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.