Pittsburgh Ballet dances its way into sleazy modernity

Adrienne Brack, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Fellow friend and editor-in-chief Katelyn Snyder and I attended the Pittsburgh Ballet at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center (SHUPAC) Sunday.  We were filled with anticipation, as the last ballet, A Gershwin Fantasy, had been a fabulous success.  Our seats were directly centered behind the orchestra pit, and the curtain opened on a promising note as the lights dimmed.
The first half of the ballet was breathtaking.  The female dancers appeared in flowing burgundy gowns, while the males were dressed in light pink tops and corresponding burgundy tights.
In the tradition of classical ballet, the music included pieces by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.  The dancers appeared graceful, and the motions were fluid.  The best dances by far were the opening and closing of the first part.  The dances in between were also beautiful, though perhaps less attention worthy.
Intermission brought another level of anticipation as Snyder and I prepared for new costumes and music.  While the first part of the ballet had been choreographed and prepared 20 years earlier, the second part was completely new and had its world premiere in February.  I was interested to see the difference between the first and the second parts of the ballet.
The curtain opened, and the audience quickly quieted as the dancers reappeared onstage.  I had to look closely, because, upon first glance, I thought every dancer was naked.  In reality, the costumes were just incredibly tight and created in stripes of colors as natural toned as skin.
The dancers began moving in jerky, disjointed motions.  The classic, elegant sense of ballet instilled by the first dance diminished.  In its place, highly over-sexualized and startling choreography abounded.
The music changed from sweet, live orchestral music to a recorded pounding of harpsichord that lasted entirely too long to entertain.  At the end, the walls of my skull felt as though they had been repeatedly smacked.
I turned to Snyder at the end, and the first thing out of my mouth was, “I really did not like that.”
The art form so lovely in its first part fell way to an almost sleazy, gritty, headache-inducing display of questionable dancing.
Sure, the ballet was only $5.  And yes, I did still very much enjoy it, though only prior to intermission.
To be sure, the best part of the ballet’s ending was the elderly woman in the background giggling and commenting, “Are those men naked?”

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