February 29, 2012


On Dec. 26, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Penny Saunders and Pablo Piantino married in a small family ceremony held in the backyard of Saunders’ grandmother’s house in Orlando, FL. The bride wore a gold and white dress she found in a second-hand shop in Chicago.

The two had been a couple for five years. Piantino, 36, graduated from Juilliard and danced with the San Francisco Ballet before arriving at Hubbard Street in 2005. Saunders, 33, had joined Hubbard Street a year earlier, having danced with Ballet Arizona and MOMIX, and been a founding member of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. A friendship came first as both were initially involved in other romantic relationships. Then something changed when they began working on Kylián’s Petite Mort. As Saunders recalls, “There is a real intimacy to that work, and I think we began to see something else in each other.”

In April the couple will have a big party at Hubbard Street’s warehouse space “for all the people we love in Chicago,” and then in mid-July they will travel to Mendoza, Argentina, where Piantino’s childhood music teacher, now a priest, will perform another ceremony.

The dancers’ choice of rings suggests how they think. As Piantino noted, “We’re both spiritual in our different ways, and we didn’t want diamonds with corrupt origins, so we commissioned handcrafted wooden rings inlaid with shells and leaves from an artisan in British Columbia, a place we love.” —Hedy Weiss


Stealing a kiss. Photo by Kristie Kahns.


In Memoriam

Mark Goldweber (1958–2011)

Mark Goldweber, ballet master for Ballet West and director of Ballet West II, died in December in Salt Lake City after a battle with cancer. An impeccable classicist, Goldweber’s ebullient performance as the Boy in Blue in the Joffrey Ballet’s 1977 revival of Ashton’s Les Patineurs lives on in memory. As dancer and ballet master, he embodied the traditions of his art form: clarity, musicality, virtuosity, and decorum.

“Mark had so much knowledge, so much to give,” says Adam Sklute, Ballet West artistic director and a close friend from their days with the Joffrey. “We shared a passion for ballet history. We were working on a new Little Mermaid almost to the end. He wanted to honor Ashton’s Ondine.”

Born in Miami, Goldweber trained with Thomas Armour at Miami Ballet, where the focus was on 19th-century classics. Hanging around the studio, as young as 10, he easily learned roles just by watching. He also studied at the Washington School of Ballet and the School of American Ballet summer program. Short, compact, with huge elevation, Goldweber performed in the Joffrey’s eclectic repertoire until 1988. He then relocated to Portland as ballet master and dancer for Pacific Ballet Theatre (which became Oregon Ballet Theatre), headed by James Canfield, another Joffrey alumnus. There, Goldweber helped to establish the city’s first resident ballet company, setting high standards for the dancers in a wide range of repertoire.

He returned to the Joffrey in 1997 as ballet master and in 2007 went to Ballet West with Sklute. His life was too short; his impact on three companies and scores of young dancers profound.

—Martha Ullman West


Goldweber as the Boy in Blue in Ashton’s
Les Patineurs. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, DM Archives.