PBT dancer returns to Northrop in major role

Sep 16, 2019

Kochis dances Daisy in The Great Gatsby, performed in Mozart in Motion too

We invited Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer Alexandra Kochis to blog for us ahead of the company’s Sep 28 performance of The Great Gatsby. Kochis is in her 14th season with the company and will dance the role of Daisy. She also performed with PBT in last year’s Mozart in Motion. We asked her to write about her time in Minnesota and also other aspects of dance. We welcome her back.

“When the we toured to Minneapolis last October I danced the fourth pas de duex in Jiri Kylian's Petite Mort—a part I never tire of. The music and movement is so perfectly paired I feel as if it's a glimpse into a separate little microcosm of a universe. One in which sentiment creates sound and music emits pure emotion. My all-time favorite role to dance is Juliet in the ballet Romeo and Juliet. I love losing myself in both the delicious tragedy of the story and the epic sweep of the heart-rending Prokofiev score.

Though it’s hard for me to pick a favorite memory from last year’s tour (there are many!) perhaps the most magical moment for me actually came after the performance, on my walk back to the hotel. It had snowed during the show, the first of the season for us visiting Pittsburghers, and everything was still and white--blanketed in a glittering veil of pristine, frosty beauty. Walking across the empty campus, the strains of Mozart still ringing in my ears, a few wayward flakes continued to filter down from the inky sky. I felt both beautifully solitary and deeply connected all at once. 

My first introduction to The Great Gatsby, like so many others, was in a high school literature class and I absolutely adored the book. The way the story evolves and the characters interact is so succinctly distilled and honed through the dialogue and multi-layered imagery, it seemed to me that I had always known these people, their personalities filtering up to my consciousness, fully formed and seemingly intrinsically understood. The choreographer Jorden Morris' production very closely mirrors the book in its pacing and staging and as a result a lot of that subconscious understanding is preserved.

To prepare to portray the role of Daisy, I reread portions of the novel and watched several of the cinematic versions of the story. I wanted to get a feel for the flavor and raucousness of the era. Ultimately though, my interpretation is informed by a close connection to the score (which is originally composed for this production—a rarity and incredibly inspiring) and in my relationship with my partners and fellow artists on stage. I am really excited to share our truth with the Northrop audience once again.

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