Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

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Pittsburgh Ballet
General information
Name Pittsburgh Ballet
Year founded November 19, 1969[1]
Founders Nicolas Petrov, Frederic Franklin
Principal venue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA United States
Website www.pittsburghballet.org
Artistic staff
Ballet Master in Chief Terrence S. Orr
Formation Principal Dancer
Corps de Ballet

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is an American professional ballet company based in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.


In 1965, Yugoslavian choreographer Nicolas Petrov joined the dance faculty at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. By 1968, Petrov began to mount several small ballets and his version of The Nutcracker for 85 dance students. The Playhouse's dance school continued under the college's auspices and was moved to Lawrence Hall downtown.

April 1970 marked the debut of Pittsburgh Ballet at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. From 1970-1971, PBT presented its first subscription season at the Syria Mosque. From 1971-1972, PBT became a constituent of the newly restored Heinz Hall. In 1973, donors purchased a downtown building for the company that would provide space for rehearsal studios and the PBT School, as well as costume and production shops. In 1974 Nicolas Petrov invited his friend, the renowned Frederic Franklin to join PBT as Co-Artistic Director. PBT continued to grow; by the 1977-1978 season ticket sales comprised 67% of PBT's $1.7 million budget. The company had continued use of the Point Park College studios for classes and overflow rehearsal space, but when an agreement was reached on the balance owed the college, PBT became completely independent from Point Park College.

Artistic Director Nicolas Petrov left to concentrate on his work at Point Park College. In March 1977, Petrov and Franklin were replaced as Co-Artistic Directors by former London Festival Ballet principal dancer John Gilpin who left shortly after taking over because of health problems. Following a six-month search, the Board of Trustees appointed French dancer and choreographer Patrick Frantz Artistic Director in 1978. Frantz emphasized contemporary works in the company's repertoire and spearheaded the development of the PBT School. 1980, PBT's 10th anniversary, saw two major developments that would profoundly affect the future of the Company: the dancers voted to join the performing arts union, the American Guild of Musical Artists and Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann joined the PBT Board of Trustees. An ardent dance fan, Swann would prove to be an invaluable support for the growing PBT School.

Frantz indicated to the Board of Trustees his desire to concentrate solely on choreography and in June 1982, Patricia Wilde's appointment to the post was announced. Wilde began to focus on the clean, precise technique for which she herself was known, adding more Balanchine ballets to the repertoire. In the 1983-1984 season, plans were put in place for the company's move to a new location, its current site at 2900 Liberty Avenue. Plans for a new performing arts center in Pittsburgh were put into motion when the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust was formed and began raising funds to support a $42 million restoration of the Stanley Theatre, renamed the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. In 1983 Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, together with the Pittsburgh Opera, Civic Light Opera and Pittsburgh Dance Council, agreed to become constituents of the Benedum Center, opened in 1987.

In 1987 Stephen Richard became Managing Director and launched a successful multimillion-dollar Stabilization Campaign to eliminate an accumulated deficit and raise funds for the creation of the world premiere of the full length ballet, “The Great Gatsby”. During Mr. Richard’s tenure the ballet began a direction of fiscal solvency. In 1991 Development Director Steven Libman was promoted to Managing Director, a position he held until 2004. During Libman’s tenure a successful $35M capital campaign was launched that resulted in the creation of many new ballets, a $1 million grant from the Wallace Foundation, the renovation of the PBT studios and the establishment of a $10M endowment fund.

Wilde led PBT from 1982-1997, until the arrival of current Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr, a celebrated American Ballet Theatre ballet master and former principal dancer. In December 2002, PBT mounted a new production of The Nutcracker with choreography by Orr and set and costume designs by renowned New York designer Zack Brown. Orr's Nutcracker is set in turn-of-the-century (1904) Pittsburgh, with scenery and names reflective of Pittsburgh neighborhoods and historical figures.

In 2000, Orr, in conjunction with Libman, began a series of commissions for contemporary ballets inspired by American music, including such musicians as Ray Brown, Stanley Turrentine, Lena Horne, Billy Strayhorn, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Cole Porter, with choreography of Kevin O'Day, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Dwight Rhoden, Derek Deane, Matjash Mrozewski, and Twyla Tharp. The jazz ballet “Indigo in Motion” was created during this time. In 2005 the noted arts management leader Harris Ferris was selected as Managing Director. In the spring of 2006, PBT had the first "Choreographers' Showcase" performance was presented at Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts featuring ballets choreographed by three of PBT's Principal Dancers, Erin Halloran, Ying Li, and Jiabin Pan.


Principal dancers

As of April 2015:[2]


As of April 2015:[3]

Corps de Ballet

As of July 2012:[4]

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School

PBT launched its first comprehensive Arts Education program in 1989 with a seed grant from the Henry C. Frick Educational Commission. In its first year the program reached 6000 children. Since that time, PBT has reached more than 65,000 children from over 200 school districts in a four-state region.

The PBTS has an enrollment of approximately 300 students and offers more than 12 levels of studio instruction six days per week. The PBTS/Schenley High School Program, enables exceptionally talented students to continue high school study while pursuing intensive, professional dance training. Students in the Schenley Program earn academic credit for additional dance classes in the morning. The curriculum includes, technique, pointe or men's, partnering, jazz, character, and pilates classes. The Graduate Program provides advanced level training to high school graduates who are preparing to audition for professional positions. While the Grad students have the same technique classes as students in the Schenley Program, they concentrate more on learning and rehearsing repertoire. Graduates of the PBTS are dancing in professional ballet companies nationwide.

The school has two main performances. Schenley Showcase is in May in the PBT studios, and only features dancers from the Schenley or Graduate Programs. The Spring Performance is held at the Byham Theater downtown the first Saturday in June. Students may also be used in other company productions, especially The Nutcracker.

The dancers who attended PBTS and are now dancing at different ballets across the world are:[5]


  • Amanda Whites, Dance Theatre of Tennessee
  • Kristie Latham, Ballet Met (Trainee)
  • Olivia Kelly, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Katie Miller, Sacramento Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Molly Wright, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Becca Cross, Rochester City Ballet
  • Ava Chatterson, Sacramento Ballet
  • Kelly Ford, Sacramento Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Jordan Richardson, Nevada Ballet Theater
  • Shanna Gayer, University of Pittsburgh
  • Meghan Wright, Sacramento Ballet
  • Amber Runyan, North Carolina Dance Theater (Trainee)
  • Christina Gratton, Boston University
  • Caitlin Mayes, University of Texas
  • Ted Henderson, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Erik Johnson, Rochester City Ballet
  • Yoshiaki Nakano, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Anna Porter, Columbia City Ballet


  • Elizabeth Ashbaugh, Louisville Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Amanda Cochrane, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Apprentice)
  • Ashley Hamman, Ballet Quad Cities
  • Caitlin McElroy, Atlantic City Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Benjamin Rabe, Rochester City Ballet
  • Amanda Radetzky, Victoria Ballet
  • Kelsey Schneider, Rochester City Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Casey Taylor, Pacific Northwest Ballet (Professional Division)
  • Benjamin Tucker, Richmond Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Kirsten Wipperfeld, Richmond Ballet (Trainee)
  • Carissa Chandler*, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (retired/injured)


  • Steven Bain, Ballet Idaho
  • Sonja Davenport, Cincinnati Ballet (Trainee)
  • Devon Darrow, Richmond Ballet (Trainee)
  • Kelly Jarrell, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Apprentice)
  • Corynn Miller, Rochester City Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Joseph Parr, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Patrick Yokum, Boston Ballet II
  • Jessica Wheeler, Louisville Ballet (Trainee)


  • Gauen Alexander, Alabama Ballet
  • Alexis Antolic, Louisville Ballet
  • Kaleb Baker, Ballet Quad Cities
  • Kelsey Bartman, Nashville Ballet
  • Allison Debona, Ballet West
  • Patrick DesRosiers, Ballet Quad Cities
  • Danielle Downey, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Sasha Edelman, Ballet Arizona
  • Laurie Lou Garside, Richmond Ballet (Apprentice)
  • Alana Gergerich, Omaha Theater Ballet
  • Shannon Hokanson, Louisville Ballet (Trainee)
  • Temple Kemezis, Connecticut Ballet
  • Emily Long, Ballet Quad Cities
  • Gabrielle Thurlow, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Brittany Waggy, Ballet Quad Cities
  • Kelly Walsh, Alabama Ballet
  • Ashley Wegman, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Aleksandr York, Omaha Theater Ballet


  • Michelle Joy, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera
  • Kimberly Tasota, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Nicholas Coppula, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Roberto Curti, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Apprentice)
  • Eva Trapp, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
  • Brienne Wiltse, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre


  1. https://www.corporations.state.pa.us/corp/soskb/Corp.asp?268162
  2. "Principals". Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 19 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Soloists". Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 19 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Corps de Ballet". Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 4 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Pre professional division". Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 27 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links