By Adrienne Bracken
On March 26, the Pittsburgh Ballet presented A Gershwin Fantasy at Seton Hill University’s (SHU) Performing Arts Center. The ballet, divided into Step Touch and Gershwin Fantasy, was choreographed by prominent dancer Viktor Plotnikov and featured jazz music by brothers George and Ira Gershwin.
The ballet’s step touch dancing displayed mostly vibrant and upbeat music easy to hum along and toe-tap to. The dancing was funky at times and fluid at others, providing the audience with variety.
Failing to impress was the step touch dancing of the ballet. While the dancing included a wide variety of moves, none of them stood out as jaw dropping or laugh-out-loud hilarious. The costumes during this section also fell short. They were too simple and plain, resembling work out clothes more than costumes. The men’s incredibly skimpy shorts were also disturbing rather than artistic in this section.
Expectations for the second half of the ballet were not terribly high, though they admittedly should have been. As soon as the Gershwin fantasy started, the ballet attendees’ eyes were glued to the stage, mouths open in wonder. The costumes suddenly became blended with a multitude of colors. The music played beautifully at points and was positively dance inducing at others. The dancers’ actions were graceful for slower music and comical for faster-paced pieces.
Certain dances stood out in this section, namely “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Promenade- Walking the Dog,” “Slap That Bass” and “Prelude #3.”
“It Ain’t Necessarily So,” the first song of the Gershwin fantasy opened with brightly colored props and fun, lively motions. The dancers were dressed in alternating black and white costumes, at one point enacting piano keys playing to the tune of the music on the stage. This dance was loud, fun, and a superb opening to the second half.
The third song of the Gershwin fantasy, “Promenade- Walking the Dog,” prompted chuckling from the theatergoers. It told a tale of a man and woman who meet and fall in love one day while walking their dogs. The story was clever and contained some small comical moments meshed within.
Arguably the most well choreographed piece within the ballet was “Slap That Bass.” The music clearly had a great deal of bass within it, and the males on stage interacted with the females to depict the playing of string instruments. It was intensely creative and bluesy, making it unforgettable.
At the precise moment “Prelude #3” began playing towards the end of the ballet, the audience erupted in laughter. A dancer dressed as an eccentric conductor came onto the stage, and other male dancers in the background played brass instruments. Suddenly, in the midst of the song, the brass players ripped off their suits, revealing hockey gear underneath. They began playing with sticks and pucks on the stage, greatly disturbing and frustrating the mad conductor. It was unexpected, original, and hilarious.
Overall, the brilliance of the ballet’s second half saved it from the mediocrity of the Step Touch portion. While live music would have made the second half even better, it was not pressing enough to detract from its outstanding qualities. By overlooking the lackluster first half in favor of remembering the second half’s wit and endearment, attendees can cherish their Gershwin Fantasy experience.