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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: May 17-19

Two ballet dancers pose in white.
Michael Henninger
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Pittsburgh Ballet dancers Hannah Carter and Lucius Kirst will perform in "Cinderella."

Check out some tunes at the Millvale Music Festival, "Cinderella" the ballet or the classic hip-hop documentary "Style Wars" — here's what to do in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Visual Art
Ghanaian artist Akwasi Afrane refashions discarded electronic gadgets he calls “amputees” into machines he calls “TRONS.” See what Afrane, selected through an international open call, has been up to as the latest artist to create an immersive work at the Mattress Factory. Afrane’s “D2NA-TC24: Visions of the Past” is a cityscape fabricated from old computers, printers, sound systems and more. The opening reception is Fri., May 17.

With some 340 acts on 28 stages, the seventh Millvale Music Festival is surely Pittsburgh’s biggest showcase for bands and performers from the region. The grassroots-organized festival ranges from hip hop and jazz to Americana, punk and metal. New this year: a classical music stage (in iconic St. Nicholas Catholic Church) and an alcohol-free Sober Stage. There’s also a comedy stage and visual art. The fest runs the night of Fri., May 17, and all day Saturday. Admission is free.

The story of Cinderella is plenty familiar, and you might even have seen the popular ballet. But this weekend, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre hosts the U.S. premiere of a 2011 version by Australian choreographer Jayne Smeulders. The PBT orchestra performs Prokofiev’s classic score, and Smeulders herself will attend the opening-night preview, on Fri., May 17. Three more performances of “Cinderella” follow through Sunday at the Benedum Center.

Visual Art
It’s a big weekend for The Andy Warhol Museum. On Sat., May 18, the museum opens “KAWS + Warhol,” an exhibition placing its namesake’s iconic work in conversation with that of KAWS, a contemporary artist whose work has ranged from street art and cartoon figures with x’d-out eyes to boxes of Frankenberry; there’ll also be a large-scale new KAWS sculpture unveiled in neighboring Pop Park. And that very night, the Warhol hosts its 30th Anniversary Gala at the Carrie Furnaces. The gala is sold out.

Pittsburgh’s longest-running poetry workshop celebrates an impressive 50 years this week. The Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange holds readings and a free monthly workshop open to all; over the years, it’s organized programs in schools, prisons and more, and its influence on the local scene is huge. The 50th-anniversary celebration features a talk and reading by co-founder Michael Wurster, readings by workshop members, and a new anthology. The event’s Sat., May 18, at South Side Presbyterian Church.

The classic early hip-hop documentary “Style Wars” gets a rare public screening, on 16 mm film no less, at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Pittsburgh Sound + Image presents Tony Silver’s 1983 doc, which looks at pioneering graffiti, break-dancing and rap artists like Crazy Legs, Seen and Futura – and the government officials who opposed them. The film’s producer, Sewickley native Henry Chalfant, will moderate a discussion with local artists after the screening, set for 2 p.m. Sat., May 18.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: