Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Marianna Tcherkassky Announces Her Retirement

The former American Ballet Theatre Principal Artist has been a Rehearsal Director and leader at PBT for more than two decades.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre 

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) long-time rehearsal director, Marianna Tcherkassky, has announced her retirement at the end of the 2022-2023 season. Tcherkassky has been a rehearsal director at PBT for 26 years. 

Before PBT, Tcherkassky danced with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) for 26 years, 20 of which as a principal dancer. 

“I have been so fortunate to enjoy two amazing careers, one as a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre and a second one as a Rehearsal Director for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, with the opportunity to help curate and bring to life through our beautiful dancers a prodigious array of repertoire,” Tcherkassky said. “I am deeply honored to have learned from and collaborated with all of the incredibly talented and dedicated artists in all aspects of my profession.”

Marianna Tcherkassky was raised in Kensington, Maryland, where she began ballet training with her mother, Lillian Oka Tcherkassky. She continued her studies on full scholarship at Mary Day’s Washington School of Ballet and then the School of American Ballet in New York. She joined American Ballet Theatre in 1970`, became a soloist in 1972, and was promoted to principal dancer in 1976 after making her debut in the title role of Giselle opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov. Tcherkassky excelled in the romantic, classic ballets and was reviewed by Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times as “one of the greatest Giselles that American ballet produced.” 

Since retiring from the stage in 1996, Tcherkassky has taught and coached dancers and served as a judge for the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida. She joined PBT as a ballet mistress in 1997 when her husband, Terrence S. Orr, took over as the artistic director for the company. The same year she received a Golden Ring Award honoring artistic excellence from the Asian-American Arts Foundation in San Francisco. In 1999, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from the University of Cincinnati and, in the spring of 2017, was honored to have her personal Act I Giselle costume on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. 

“It is an incredible pleasure to work with Marianna. She has extraordinary expertise and knowledge that she utilizes to help our artists grow every day. She also possesses a particular gentleness and compassion, which I admire,” said Adam W. McKinney, artistic director at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. “PBT will not be the same without her. We will miss her artistry, her kindness and her passion. The entire company joins me in wishing Marianna all the best during her well-deserved retirement.”

As a Rehearsal Director at PBT, she has helped bring countless repertoire to the stage, including Giselle, La Bayadere, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Don Quixote, George Balanchine’s Diamonds, and Theme and Variations, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, Jiri Kilian’s Sinfonietta, and Petit Mort, to name a handful.

After retiring, Tcherkassky says there are many new possibilities on the horizon to which she looks forward, including spending time in nature, bird watching, visiting family and friends across the country, and spending time with her husband Terry at his vintage car groups and shows. 

A celebration of Marianna Tcherkassky’s career at Pittsburgh Ball Theatre is planned for the company’s December 2023 production of The Nutcracker. The event date and details will be announced soon.

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