Tommie Kesten in The Sleeping Beauty with Lucius Kirst. Rich Sofranko, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

2019 Stars of the Corps: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Tommie Kesten

With her shining stage presence and high-kicking moxie, first-year Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre corps member Tommie Kesten is hard to miss. In the company's recent premiere of Jordan Morris' The Great Gatsby, Kesten didn't need her bright green flapper dress to stand out in the corps—her playfulness and easy swagger shone on their own.


Kesten in The Great Gatsby. Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy PBT.

The audience, and PBT leadership, took notice of the young risk-taker, and since then she's been cast as the soloist girl in "Rubies" and Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty. In "Rubies," she bravely danced the role to the edge, and kept the audience on the edge of their seats. It is startling to imagine the artistry that will follow her with more maturity.

A homegrown talent, Kesten studied at Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh before leaving to attend Miami City Ballet School and then Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Kesten's joie de vivre is entirely authentic. She is named after her brother Tommy, who died before she was born; her other brother Ty passed away in a motocross accident when she was just 15. "Whenever I am onstage, I am always performing for my big brothers in heaven," she says.

Latest Posts


Bill Cooper, Courtesy The Royal Opera House

Pro Pointe Shoe Hacks from Royal Ballet Principal Yasmine Naghdi

Did you know that Royal Ballet principal Yasmine Naghdi's pointe shoes are actually made up of two different models, combined? Below, watch pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee interview Naghdi on all of her pointe shoe hacks, from her anti-slipping tricks to her darning technique.

Sergei Gavrilov, Courtesy Joy Womack

Catching Up With Joy Womack on Two Upcoming Films Based on Her Life, Plus How She's Managed in Quarantine

Many ballet films canonize the careers of dancers long retired from the stage. But that's not the case for Joy Womack, who at just 26 has not one, but two films in the works based on her life. Womack made a splash early on as the first American to graduate from the domestic program of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in over 60 years, and the first American woman to join the Bolshoi Ballet. After whirlwind careers as a principal with the Kremlin Ballet Theatre of Moscow and South Korea's Universal Ballet, Womack has just completed her first season as an artist with Boston Ballet.

Both upcoming films cover Womack's years in Russia. Joy Womack: The White Swan, a documentary made by Dina Burlis and Sergey Gavrilov, debuted at Cannes Marché in June. It is currently in post-production. The second project, Joika, is a feature film directed by James Napier Robertson starring Thomasin McKenzie as Womack. Production has been halted due to the pandemic, but filming is rescheduled to start in early 2021 in New Zealand.

We caught up with Womack in Redding, California, where she's just relocated with her boyfriend, to hear all about how she's managing during the coronavirus shutdown, and what it's been like to imagine her life played out on the big screen.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Pantry Spotlight: 3 Reasons Why Dancers Shouldn't Overlook Legumes

Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soybeans and chickpeas are all part of the legume family, categorized for their pods that contain seeds. Here are three reasons dancers shouldn't overlook this nutritious staple.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks