The holidays have nearly reached their end but the splendor of the theatrical season has only just begun for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Their community engagement over the years has provided excellent productions, superior training for their students and now, sensory-friendly performances that make the experience of ballet accessible to a wider range of audiences.
“Sensory-friendly” is a term used to describe performances that eliminate triggers like loud sounds, flashing lights, and sudden atmospheric shifts. In an effort to accommodate families and individuals with special needs, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater has become one of the first company in the nation to offer these sensory-friendly productions.
While still maintaining the artistic integrity of their productions, Pittsburgh Ballet has implemented several changes to accomodate patrons with autism and other special needs including relaxed house rules such as the freedom for patrons to move around and use tablets during the shows for theraputic needs. The company has worked with local autism and intellectual and developmental disability experts to ensure their staff, performers and volunteers are well versed on this spectrum of special needs and able to offer help and guidance to those in need.
In the past three years, Pittsburgh Ballet has run a number of these productions in congruence with regularly scheduled shows. In 2013, they became the first professional ballet company in the U.S. to offer a sensory-friendly production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, most notably eliminating the fire flares that signal Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks in the original performance. This was followed by the sensory-friendly Beauty and the Beast.
On February 17th, Pittsburgh Ballet will debut their first sensory-friendly version of Peter Pan at the Benedum Center. For tickets, click here.