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.