And with each run through of the steps, the students gained more confidence until they were making each move with grace and precision.
Two weeks later, the students were in the audience watching Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers bring Diaz’ entire piece – as well as two other works they learned - to life on the stage of the Performing Arts Center.
The dancers were part of a partnership developed between Seton Hill University and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre that brought PBT dancers into University classrooms to teach a residency and master class program. The collaboration culminated with a one-night only performance of “Millennial Movement,” featuring three world-premiere works choreographed by PBT dancers Alejandro Diaz, William Moore and Cooper Verona on May 7.
“Seton Hill recognizes the value the partnership with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre brings to our dance program," said President Mary Finger. “Millennial Movement enhanced the rich arts and cultural offerings Seton Hill provides in the City of Greensburg and gave our students the opportunity to learn more about their art from talented professional dancers.”
“It was an honor to collaborate with Seton Hill University on the Millennial Movement program," said Harris Ferris, executive director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. "It gave three emerging choreographers the chance to innovate with their fellow dancers and share something unique with Greensburg audiences. The residency, overall, generated an immense amount of creative energy --- from the choreographic process itself to the opportunity for artists and students to share ideas and explore movement styles in the studio. We thank Seton Hill for opening their doors and studios and look forward to the growth of this collaboration.”
Through the residency program, Seton Hill students learned parts of the choreography from all three works performed in “Millennial Movement,” including Diaz’ “Physsis/Remissio,” Verona’s “Walking With” and Moore’s “Four Marks.”
“We are thrilled that professional dancers of the caliber and talent of PBT were on the Seton Hill campus working with our students to help them hone and refine their skills and give them a glimpse at what life is like working in a professional company,” said TaMara Swank, assistant professor of dance.
“It was amazing to have Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre come and teach us choreography that was in the show and to be able to compare how their dancers perform the pieces to how we performed," said dance student Chelsea Pawlak.
PBT dancers also came to the new Seton Hill Arts Center dance studios to teach two Master Classes – one to Seton Hill students and the other to students in the Seton Hill Dance Academy and from other local dance studios.
“It was such a great experience to have Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers come to teach us, and their presence brought more awareness to the Seton Hill dance program. They are a very renowned company and to have them working with us was an honor,” said Katie Montefiori, who graduated in May with degrees in dance and Spanish. “I feel I gained so much as a dancer and learned so much from them.”
“In addition to teaching us dance, they each told us their stories, how they got to this point in their professional lives and offered us advice as well,” said dance student Zuri Hodge.
Seton Hill and PBT are looking to continue the partnership during the 2016-17 academic year with another residency and performance. Save the date for May 5 and 6, 2017.