Photo by Rich Sofranko

Byham Theater
March 10 – 13
8 p.m. & 2 p.m.

The iconic songs of Johnny Cash are getting the full ballet treatment for four exciting nights at downtown’s Byham Theater. For its latest mixed repertory series, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) kicks off the spring season with four distinct works.

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Photo by Duane Rieder.

Mixed Repertory #2 features the Pittsburgh premieres of James Kudelka’s “The Man in Black” and Michael Smuin’s “Eternal Idol,” as well as the world premiere of  Yoshiaki Nakano’s “A Fellow Feeling,” a new work created by the PBT’s own principal dancer, Yoshiaki Nakano, who is the company’s first dancer to debut a main stage work during the 19-year tenure of Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr.

A highlight to the innovative evening will surely be “The Man in Black” created by Canadian choreographer, dancer and director James Kudelka. Trading in their delicate pointe shoe for cowboy boots, three male dancers and one female will perform a wide range of country-western dance styles—such as line, square, swing and step. A  ballet set to six Johnny Cash songs, including “Four Strong Winds,” “Hurt” and “Sam Hall,” the spirited work features colloquial elements, a montage of poetic images and a celebration of American working-class independence, pride and resilience.

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Photo by Duane Rieder.

Created by San Francisco-based dancer, choreographer and theatre director Michael Smuin (1938-2007), “Eternal Idol” takes inspiration from French sculptor Auguste Rodin in a work that features an evocative pas de deux set to Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, along with striking flesh-colored unitards designed by Marcos Paredes.

“Jardin Aux Lilas (Lilac Garden),” among the most significant works created by groundbreaking   choreographer Antony Tudor (1908-1987), explores psychological themes, repressed romance and strained relationships in a mini-period drama filled with the nuanced gestures, steps and glances of dancers.

In his world premiere, “A Fellow Feeling,” Yoshiaki Nakano presents a neoclassical work for nine couples set to Mozart’s Concerto No. 20 in D Minor. Pittsburgh audiences will be the first to see the entire work, which features new costumes designed by PBT costumier Janet Groom Campbell.

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Looking for more events? Read our 12 Pittsburgh events not to miss in March feature.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.