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Enriching Pittsburgh's Theatrical Scene

L - R Nicholas Dragga, executive director; Sofya Stearns; Adam McKinney, artistic director

From my earliest memories, my mother consistently took my twin sister and me to the ballet. Did we adore it? Absolutely! To be honest, it wouldn't be truthful if I said there was no gastronomic delight involved. Growing up in Moscow, Russia, where shortages were common, including the scarcity of toilet paper, the theater's intermission provided a respite. The canteen always featured delectable sandwiches with caviar, chocolate candy, "Belochka" (a candy which means squirrel), wafers, chocolate, "Mishka na Severe" (Bear in the North), pastries, and lemonade "Buratino" (Pinocchio). A caviar sandwich with lemonade, followed by an éclair or candy bar, remains one of the many enchanting memories of my childhood.


Fast forward to my present life – I've followed in my mother's footsteps, introducing my child to the wonders of the theater at every opportunity. Izabella's inaugural ballet experience was The Nutcracker at the tender age of two. I'll forever cherish the fascination she expressed for the dancers, the exquisite tutus, and the captivating scenery. Now, after numerous shows, Izabella shares the same love for the theater as her mom and grandmother. Benefiting from her enrollment at the top-notch Wexford Dance Academy, Izabella experiences the magic firsthand.


Izabella and Tippy

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking Izabella and her friend Tippy to the Beauty and the Beast ballet. During intermission, I had the honor of meeting and conversing with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's new Artistic Director, Adam McKinney, and Executive Director, Nickolas Dragga. A few days later, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Dragga.


Q. How would you encourage millennials and the younger generation to start attending PBT?

A. Let go of any expectations; just come and enjoy. The music, the beautiful scenery, the movement – it will all mesmerize you. Release the fear of not belonging.


Q. What advice would you give to a mom of multiple kids who cannot afford the tickets?

A. PBT offers discounted tickets throughout the year. Connect with PBT, and we will never turn you down.


Q. How would you change the stigma that ballet productions are primarily appealing to girls and older individuals?

A. Witness it for yourself. Take a chance. There's an athletic component to every move and dance. Moving forward, we're striving to reach every community. Check out our Spring Mix and Cinderella with the Pittsburgh Orchestra in April and May, and the Peter Pan production in October.


Q. Would you ever consider doing something for communities with special needs? Perhaps discounted tickets?

A. Absolutely. We offer shows with sensory-friendly performances – lights less dimmed, music less loud, and more room to move around. Connect with PBT, and we'll gladly provide a family with tickets.


So, take your family to the theater, embrace ballet, broaden your family's horizons, and let them explore something enchanting, exquisite, and otherworldly. Dress up, savor a glass of bubbly, and for the little ones, a KitKat. Close your eyes, inhale, exhale, and enjoy.

For more information on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, visit their website at

La Dolce Vita!




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