In 1949, Charles “Chick” and Elda Mae Bruckman founded Bruckman School of Dance as a center of education for dancers of all ages and skill levels. A lifelong devotee of dance, Chick began his career at 6 years old and remains the school’s artistic director to this day. Along with a team of instructors, the Bruckmans introduce students to dance styles including tap, ballet, jazz, pointe, and hip-hop. As they lead students in mastering choreographed routines, they also teach dance history, imparting the origins of ballet and how NASA scientists made the moonwalk a dance craze in the early '70s. In addition to conventional dance classes, they host dance-inspired fitness classes, such as the Hip Hop Hustle and Turbo Kick, to get cardiovascular systems pumping.
Pittsburgh was about to fall off the theater map when Pittsburgh Public Theater debuted in 1975. Faced with shuttered ticket windows, a dwindling audience, and marquees holding messages like "Goodbye cruel world," founders Joan Apt, Margaret Rieck, and Ben Shaktman were determined to make their company a success. And that determination paid off: their first season's productions of The Glass Menagerie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Twelfth Night raked in critical acclaim and audience fanfare. Ticket sales climbed, and the trio eventually increased their season to six productions. Among these have been classics as well as plenty of new works, such as August Wilson's King Hedley II and Michael Cristofer's Amazing Grace.
The cloak of sparkling newness belies Benedum Center’s deep history in the theatrical world. Opened to regal fanfare and a holographic performance by Tupac in 1928, the theater then waded through the downs and ups of history until a $43 million restoration buffed its surfaces back to their former glory in 1984. Today, the 90 chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, the Grand Lobby’s mirrors and marble, and most of the 1,500 feet of brass rail throughout are all original. The centerpiece is the main chandelier, a 4,700-pound, 20-foot-high, 12-foot-wide behemoth that sparkles to remind visitors of the theater’s glory days.
Though having only recently celebrated its second birthday, the August Wilson Center commands a striking architectural confidence. Its two-story steel-and-glass sail juts into the night sky with the bravado of a toddler who just lassoed his first neighborhood cat. Within the steal and glass, a 486-seat theater hosts plays, dance performances, and lectures while multiple exhibition galleries display art and cultural treasures for the community. The center draws on the legacy and culture of African Americans from Western Pennsylvania, infusing each curation with a celebration of rich history.
A nonprofit arts organization, Pittsburgh Musical Theater has energized the tapping of toes for more than two decades. The historic Byham Theater dates back to 1903, when the venue was originally erected as the Gayety Theater, and now fills its flashing marquee with Broadway shows, dance troupes, and films.
• For $12, you get one ticket to an 8 p.m. performance on a Thursday (up to a $24 value, not including parking; student tickets are $7). • For $12, you get one ticket to a 2 p.m. performance on a Saturday or Sunday (up to a $24 value, not including parking; student tickets are $7). • For $13, you get one ticket to an 8 p.m. performance on a Friday or Saturday (up to a $27 value, not including parking; student tickets are $8).