Profiles

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

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

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.

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Darian Volkova, Courtesy Shayer

After years of rigorous training, ballet dancers become accustomed to constructive and oftentimes harsh criticism. Being scrutinized is something that comes with the territory.

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News
Greta Hodgkinson and Guillaume Côté in Margeurite and Armand. Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

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Training
Students at Sun King Dance's Adult Ballet Camp. Jenny McQueen of Capture Photography, Courtesy Sun King Dance.

For adult recreational dancers, summer isn't just a time for swapping out warm-up sweaters for breezy tees—it's also about taking your training to the next level, and perhaps packing your bags for a ballet workshop. Why should teens and pre-professionals have all of the fun? Fortunately, there are scores of adult summer programs all over the United States, and even abroad for those of you looking to sprinkle in a little sightseeing after your final reverénce. (Can't wait for summer? Check out these spring workshops at National Ballet of Canada and Sarasota Ballet.)

What can adults expect from a weekend or a week of dance training? Everything from technique to repertoire to yoga. Most of all, it's a chance to just dig in and dance, without a pesky to-do list waiting for you after class. Here are some summer programs designed for adult recreational dancers to keep on your radar.

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