Terrence S. Orr with dancers of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Aimee DiAndrea, courtesy PBT.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr to Retire After Next Season

Change is in the air in Steel City: On Friday Terrence S. Orr announced that, after 22-years as artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, he will retire in June 2020 following the conclusion of PBT's 50th anniversary season.


Orr took the helm of PBT in 1997, succeeding former New York City ballet star Patricia Wilde. Originally from Concord, California, he trained at the San Francisco Ballet School before joining the company and becoming a principal dancer at age 17. He then rose to that rank as a dancer with American Ballet Theatre, where he later spent 19 years as a ballet master before being named PBT's artistic director.

During his tenure, Orr early on guided PBT through financial setbacks and has since overseen growth in the company's budget, ticket sales, school enrollment and campus, including the addition of a 14,000-square-foot annex building with new studios and a wellness center.

Orr and former principal dancer Julia Erickson in rehearsal.

Aimee DiAndrea, Courtesy PBT.

Orr has balanced PBT's repertory with a mix of story ballet classics and masterworks by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp and others; he has also provided a platform for emerging choreographers, including those within the company. His more than 20 new commissions for PBT includes a string of music-artist-themed ballets in the early 2000s to songs by Lena Horne, Paul Simon, Sting and Bruce Springsteen. In recent years, Orr bolstered PBT's repertory with ballets by Jiří Kylian, John Neumeier and William Forsythe along with company debuts of La Bayadère, Beauty and the Beast and Moulin Rouge®: The Ballet.

He has also championed increased accessibility and educational programming at PBT and the nation's first professional sensory-friendly production of (his Pittsburgh-themed) The Nutcracker.

A succession plan and the formation of a search committee is underway by PBT's Board for Orr's replacement.

"It has been my honor to lead this company," says Orr. "I want to thank the dancers, musicians and patrons who have become like family. You have made my time here something I will always cherish."

Latest Posts


Yvonne Montoya with her son Buddy at home. Photo by Dominic A Bonuccelli, Courtesy Montoya

The Challenges of Dancing While Parenting While Going Through a Pandemic

When Yvonne Montoya climbs all over the piano while her 12-year-old son Buddy tries to practice on it, we might guess that she is either having a parental meltdown or making a dance. Turns out, it's both. "It's been wild, and completely overwhelming," says Montoya from her Tucson, Arizona home, where she lives with Buddy and her husband.

Montoya, a 23rd-generation Nuevomexicana and founding director of Safos Dance Theatre, is one of many dance artists navigating motherhood during COVID-19. Choreographers, educators, artistic directors and dancers are not only trying to keep their careers afloat by creating digital work, but some have also been dealing with their now homebound children in the wobbly world of the Zoom school room, which is about to crank up again in most of the U.S. Doing that while managing a company, a studio or a freelance career can sometimes generate a type of artful chaos.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS