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 Learn more about Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre here:

Oh and also, go Steelers! #blackandyellow

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