Pittsburgh ballet company focuses on diversity, inclusion

A new ballet company with an emphasis on inclusion will soon dance its way into permanent headquarters in Pittsburgh’s South Side Flats.

Founded in mid-2020 as Confluence Ballet Theatre by Moselle Haney, Confluence Ballet Company “was established around the vision to create dance free from the constraints of racial inequity and stigmas surrounding body-type,” according to its website.

It will offer both dance instruction to members of the community and mainstage productions by a company of professional dancers, according to artistic director Courtney Streeter. The company’s nonprofit status is pending.

Three mainstage productions are planned for the 2021-22 season, beginning in November with “Coppéllia,” a comic ballet that premiered in 1870. Performance dates and location will be announced later, Streeter said.

Currently based in Seattle/Tacoma, Washington, Haney is a dancer, choreographer and teacher who has trained with companies including Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her choreography has been featured in showcases at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and Washington Contemporary Ballet in Tacoma.

“Moselle is a very strong, very courageous young woman with lots of experience of racism within the ballet community — as there is everywhere,” Streeter said. “She wants to provide opportunities to underrepresented populations that are not given opportunities in (the ballet) community.

“We’ll be working to create an environment of diversity and inclusion where our dancers and students can collaborate and grow,” she said.

Faculty members

Confluence is employing 16 professional dancers as company artists and six dancers as apprentices. In addition to Haney and Streeter, faculty members include Lea Havas, Elizabeth Calvert and Dan Karasik.

Havas, a native of Brazil, has danced most of the classical repertoire with companies in the United States and Europe, working with renowned choreographers such as the late Rudolph Nureyev. She is a staff member at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School Community Division.

Calvert, a Point Park University dance performance graduate, danced for three years with Ballet Theatre of Maryland. She now teaches in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School Community Division and other schools in the city.

Karasik, also a Point Park alumnus, teaches at Point Park and Pittsburgh CLO Academy and is director of the Morgantown (West Virginia) Ballet Company.

Streeter also studied ballet at Point Park and danced as part of the professional company while studying with Atlanta Festival Ballet. She also studied with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet Chicago and has danced in other professional productions.

Coming this summer will be children’s camps and recreational classes in multiple dance genres, both classical and contemporary, for students ages 3 through adult. Students will present performances based on classes and have opportunities to audition for the company’s professional productions.

As part of its emphasis on inclusion, the company intends to keep tuition affordable for members of the community, Streeter said.

Auditions are open for professional trainee division classes and a summer intensive.

“The training program is for dancers ages 16-23 on the cusp of their professional careers,” Streeter said.

Classes for pre-professional dancers will take place from Sept. 6 through the end of the season in June 2022. Classes for the summer intensive will take place daily, Aug. 2-28, and are designed for intermediate to advanced level students who are admitted by audition.

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Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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