Annual performance brings talent to Byham stage

Written By Nicole Chynoweth

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Throughout Zachary Kapeluck’s 16 years of dancing, he has wanted to perform with the Hubbard Street Dance company of Chicago because of its prestige and its members’ talent. “It’s always been a dream of mine,” Kapeluck said in an interview last Wednesday in Lawrence Hall. On February 24, 25 and 26, Kapeluck, a sophomore dance major, will realize part of that dream when he performs “Bardo,” a contemporary dance piece originally performed by that company, in Point Park University’s Conservatory Dance Company’s annual concert at the Byham Theater, which features legendary choreography by four dance icons. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to help me kind of get my foot in the door and see if that’s really what I want to do,” Kapeluck said.

The show focuses on the work of four dance legends: George Ballanchine, Bill T. Jones, Trey McIntyre and Toru Shimazaki. “Bardo” is one of four performances by the Conservatory Dance Company, consisting of Point Park students of various ages, which will be showcased at the Pittsburgh Cultural District’s Byham Theater on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., during an annual engagement that showcases students’ talents in various forms of dance. The conservatory’s administration selects dance pieces for the students to perform and then brings in “repetiteurs,” people hired to teach the choreography of companies’ pieces, from companies who have performed those pieces in the past. The students are cast in roles from duets to ensembles. Kapeluck, like all scholarship dancers, auditions for every production. For the Byham Theater show, he was cast in not only Shimazaki’s modern “Bardo,” but also Ballanchine’s “Valse Fantaisie,” a classical ballet piece. “With a show like this, all of the pieces are so … diverse that it offers something for anyone, whether you’re a dancer or a non-dancer,” Kapeluck said. “To be able to work with so many different outside choreographers is a great opportunity because obviously they’re professionals, have a lot of experience and can impart a lot of knowledge,” Kapeluck said. “Also it is great networking because they have already done the professional thing, so it’s a great way to branch out a little bit and explore what you want to do when you graduate from school.” In addition to “Bardo” and “Valse Fantaisie,” the students will present Jones’ “D-Man in the Waters” and McIntyre’s “Blue Until June Suite.” The pieces stylistically range from classical to progressive. Ballanchine was a co-founder of New York City Ballet in 1948, according to Shimazaki is iconic for his integration of Japanese culture in his choreography, according to Cheryl Mann, who taught “Bardo” to students in the Byham Theater show. Jones incorporates social context into his choreography, according to Catherine Cabeen, who taught “D-Man in the Waters” for the show. McIntyre has choreographed over 80 pieces for various companies including New York City Ballet, according to Each piece in the show is “set,” or taught, by different repetiteurs. Paul Boos is setting “Valse Fantaisie,” while Shayne Mishoe is setting “Blue Until June Suite.” Mann and Tobin Belucuore are setting “Bardo,” and Nicole Smith will assist Cabeen in setting “D-Man in the Waters.” “The show will embody what a broad range of dance aesthetics there are,” said Cabeen in a telephone interview last Wednesday. Cabeen, 33, performed with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company from 1998 to 2005 and now works as the company’s repetiteur. Her choreography emphasizes the amount of courage the students have as dancers. “The piece includes a lot of images of struggle, blind leaps, partnering and the students supporting each other and working as a group,” Cabeen said. Mann is a Point Park alumna and jumped at the opportunity to choreograph for the show. “Any time I come back to Point Park, I have a really good experience,” said Mann, 38, in a telephone interview last Wednesday. “Anytime I can come back I feel [as if] I am giving back.” Mann, who resides in Chicago, performed in the original rendition of “Bardo,” a piece she described as challenging and ultimately rewarding because it draws on contemporary dance and martial arts. “Point Park could only do this show if the dancers were strong enough to do it,” Mann said. Students rehearse for two weeks, including evenings and weekends, to perfect their pieces. Elise Ritzel, a junior dance major, is performing in her third Byham show this year in the pieces “Valse Fantaisie” and “Blue Until June Suite.” “In my opinion, the Byham show is the best show we have all year, not only because it’s in one of the best theaters in Pittsburgh, but also because it’s always the most professional show, and we look like more of a company in each piece instead of just students,” said Ritzel in an interview last Thursday in Lawrence Hall. Tickets for the show are $18 to $20, and student tickets are $7 to $8. They can be purchased at or by calling the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at (412) 392–8000. Conservatory of Performing Arts Marketing Director Chris Hays stressed the show will likely interest even non-dance students. “This particular set of pieces will intrigue universally everyone,” said Hays in a telephone interview last Thursday. “This is a really great opportunity for the whole community to experience four dance legends and for students to see their peers. It is something everyone at Point Park can be proud of.”

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