MAC seek to expose more to ballet

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Now in its second performance year, the Mid-Atlantic Ballet will perform its spring program, “Now See Hear,” Thursday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m., at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks.

This year, MAC Ballet collaborates with Anime BOP! (Bassoon, Oboe, Piano) blending their neo-classical, electric sound with the contemporary dance movements. The Anime BOP! is a trio comprised of three Pittsburgh Symphony musicians who aim to bring attention to reed instrument sounds.

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BALLET ANYONE?—Gerald Holt with dancer Liz Doyle (Photo by Nikki Coffee Denton)

Miriam Scigliano, MAC Ballet’s artistic director, choreographed a provocative ballet love story that compliments the intricate sounds and melodies of Pittsburgh native, Darren Hagen’s exceptional music composition.

Gerard Holt, executive artistic director, has chosen three pieces from Anime BOP!’s repertoire to create his newest work, “Last of the Trojan Women.” Inspired by the music compositions of the Andre Previn, Holt sculpted out the personalities and feelings of these women who witness the destruction of their city and face the end of their lives.“The last movement of the third piece is very soulful, very dramatic melody,” Holt said.“I allowed the music form what the characters emotions would be.”

Holt is pleased with the collaboration with Anime Bop! and hopes that it flourishes. “I like the idea of MAC Ballet having an association with live music. I think that’s important for the dancers, for the children—specifically for African-American children because I think they need to hear live classical music.” Holt sees collaborations between the arts as a trend.

“We have to be open to collaborative efforts in order to survive. I think that’s the future for arts in general, here in Pittsburgh and across the county. It’s not about standing on your own so much anymore, but more about. Times have changed and everyone has to lean on others.”

Holt says that with so many schools today cutting arts programs, a good number of youth miss out on the opportunity to see and hear live music and dance. “Classical instrumental music is under appreciated to many of our young people,” Holt says. “Contemporary music outside of the realm of hip-hop is foreign. They can relate to the music and the videos seen on BET and MTV, but the goal is to try and pull them out of that and come to appreciate the unsynthesized music and sound.”

To incite an appreciation for live arts, students from the Propel Montour School will be privy to a special matinee performance with a lecture and demonstration following. The Students will be given vouchers encouraging them to bring their parents back Thursday evening for the main performance. “We are hoping the matinee will inspire the students to bring their parents back,” Holt explains.

The major highlight of this young dance company is its recent nonprofit status. “It’s been a very educational experience,” Holt said. “Now comes the survival part.” The company’s goal is to get its name out in front of the public and to recruit more talented dancers, Black or White. “Many dance students get to the end of their training, but because there are few classical ballet companies in Pittsburgh, we lose them because there are few outlets for their talents,” Holt said.

Many of the modern dance companies in the area are part-time companies. Holt doesn’t want MAC Ballet to continue down this road.

“I don’t want to be that type of company. I want to eventually have full-time dancers and build the company. I want to contribute to the artistic community here in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a great artistic community, we just need more funding.”

MAC Ballet will hold a fundraising performance Tuesday, April 27, at St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church, 506 Saline St. in Greenfield. This performance will have a biblical slant with movements based on sections from one of Holt’s newer ballets called “Bathsheba.”

“I’ve taken some familiar music and will do a collection of the heroines of the Bible, such as the three Marys. The mother of Christ, Lazarus’ sister and Mary Magdalene,” Holt said.

The highlight of this performance will be a solo ballet set to the “Lord’s Prayer,” sung by Mahalia Jackson. Guest dancers from Holt’s advanced ballet class at Sandra Lynn School of Dance, in Greensburg, will perform with MAC Ballet, and Anime Bop! will perform as well. Donations will be accepted at this benefit performance.

(For more information regarding this event, call 412-626-0276.)

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