Chicago Dancing Festival: Q&A with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Chicago Dancing Festival: Q&A with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performing Sandpaper Ballet. (photo by Rich Sofranko)

Unless you are living under a rug somewhere at the bottom of Lake Michigan, you are probably gearing up for this week's Chicago Dancing Festival. The annual mammoth dance event is back with a great lineup of seasoned veterans and brand newbies. One of those newbies is Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I may be biased (Pittsburgh is my hometown!), but I am stoked that PBT is participating in this year's festival. I had the chance to virtually sit down with PBT's JoAnna Schmidt, who will be performing in Mark Morris' Sandpaper Ballet this Saturday at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. I found out JoAnna loves ballet flats (shocker!), Violet Hour in Wicker Park (yum, cocktails!), and wearing her grandma's Danskin tights. Fun! Let's find out more.

What's in your dance bag? I have pointe shoes, ballet flats, socks, a small bag of sewing supplies and bandages, a thera-band, mints, and, more recently, a bottle of “Booty Goo” to keep Band-Aids from falling off my arches.

Favorite place to get dancewear? It varies. I really like brands such as Wildfox, Black Milk Clothing, or Cloud and Victory, but I also like hand-me-downs and wearing my grandma’s Danskin tights from the 1980s.

Have you been to Chicago before? I have been to Chicago and I love it. The parks are really pretty, Yolk has some of the most satisfying brunch I’ve ever experienced, and The Violet Hour is a really fun place to get a nice cocktail…and they don’t allow the use of cell phones inside, which I think is marvelous.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer JoAnna Schmidt

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancer JoAnna Schmidt

What are you most looking forward to about your performance at CDF? I am really looking forward to seeing so many inspiring dance companies perform at once!

What should we expect from Mark Morris' Sandpaper Ballet? Precision, musicality, and a lot of lime green.

What's the coolest performance costume you ever got to wear? Getting to wear a dress designed by Oscar de la Renta for Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs definitely felt very glamorous.

Favorite thing about Pittsburgh? There’s a lot of local business here. You’ll often have to drive a little outside of the city to find more familiar chains. One of my favorite things is the Manor Theatre, which is a more intimate movie theater that’s been around forever. Pittsburgh is kind of hipster-ish, but not in a pretentious way; the people are so friendly!

I like JoAnna already. Make sure to check out her show Saturday, and all the other amazing performances this week. View the schedule at www.chicagodancingfestival.com. Learn more about Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre here: www.pbt.org

Oh and also, go Steelers! #blackandyellow

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