by Sophia Levine, Pittsburgh Dance blogger
For a city of its size, Pittsburgh harbors a thriving dance scene. Whether your stylistic preference is ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, musical theater or cultural dance, there are a variety of offerings in the way of professional dance companies, performances and performing seasons.
The longest-running company in the area is Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which was founded in 1970 and offers a season full of both classical and contemporary dance. Attack Theatre, now in its 16th year, also presents a full season, including traditional performances of their own choreography as well as their popular Dirty Ball fund-raising dance party and game nights (especially popular with young Pittsburgh couples and singles). The newly established August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble is making its mark on the contemporary dance scene with performance works created by locals and renowned visiting artists. Another young company, the Pillow Project, has become known for its jazz-improvisation approach to movement and in 2011 sent dancers to collaborate with musicians in Paris.
A number of Pittsburgh performing venues and organizations also host dance seasons. The Pittsburgh Dance Council has a long-established regular season made up of local, national and international companies, but the Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s creation of dance residency programs and New Moves Dance Festival might have an even greater local impact. These programs, as well as the Strayhorn’s annual dance season, engage fresh work from up-and-coming choreographers and include local dance and theater-dance companies such as Staycee Pearl Dance Project and Pennsylvania Dance Theatre.
For those interested in the college dance scene, Point Park College and Slippery Rock University dance programs have both student and faculty choreography shows, and the Duquesne University Tamburitzans offer high energy programs of song and dance. Independent artists like improvisational dancer Gia Cacalano also impact the dance scene with less-traditional dance works in art galleries and around the city.