Ballet Dreams 2019

In 2019, Penn Ten18 under the direction of Dan Harris was contracted to created a mural in a space within the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's building in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. 



Mural Concept

The designer of the space envisioned a section of the center of the 35 foot wall to have a street art feel flanked by steel plating that was already with in the space. The space is a pass through on the second floor that connect the pro dancer practice space and ballet offices. It is used as a cyber space for the students enrolled in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. The mural was to be youthful and inspiring to the students. Incorporating themes of street art, athleticism , and dedication.

The space was already beginning to take shape




A concept proposal was presented to the Ballet and accepted with the understanding the development of the mural would be creatively fluid during the process. Dan Harris's concept incorporated the idea of layered stencils, gradient painting, and a pair of dancers.


Project on Hold

After the initial acceptance of the proposal the project was put on hold. During this time Dan Harris looked at over 1000 images and videos of ballet. Did some research on potential finishes that could be incorporated in his style and street art concepts that could be used for mural. Thus began his "Ballet Dreams". This was something he was sure the students of the ballet school had. Dreams of movement and layers within ballet fill the space within sleep.

Layered Stencil Concepts

Gradient Painting ideas

Ballet Couples

Moving Forward

Several months passed since initial concept was presented when the word came the Ballet wanted to move forward with the project. What started as testing the process turned into creating a test wall in Penn Ten18's warehouse studio. 

This creating the idea that rather than just creating a 10 foot space in center of wall the dream was to be extended to the entire wall with dancers taking up space in the center section.

The test wall would serve both as experimental but also to create techniques to speed up the process of installation.

It became a vital tool in rendering what the potential dancer image would be in the end.



Many ideas of how the dancers were going to added were reviews. From making stencils, 2 to 3 color, freehand, but in the end it was decided it was going to printed on paper and added to the wall like wallpaper. Over several weeks it turned from a street stencil art to actual manipulated photography. Then when consulting with printing company it was decided printed vinyl wallpaper product that is self sticking would be a great solution. In the end the actual dancers were the combination of two photographs. Below are some digital renderings that were created through the process.

concept testing

design renderings for approval

Final Approved Rendering

Design Rendering

This rendering is a combination of photo of warehouse test mural and digital rendering of two dancers combined into one image.


The Installation

The installation took 50 hours all over 5 days just to paint the wall.


Final Painted Wall


Adding Steel Plates

One design element that exist in the room are steel plates that act as columns. These were incorporated into the mural wall as well.


Development and Installations of Dancers

The dancers were printed on a vinyl self adhesive wall paper.


Test printing on paper to get the color just right with printer.


Press Check ... just to get the color just right 

Schedule the printing with Perspectives In Print, in Export PA, to test the color on paper and then print actual vinyl.


Installation of Dancers

The image of the dancer was printed in two pieces and installed using transfer paper. It took about an hour to install. Most of the time was spent making sure they were going to be positioned right, plus line up. Final step was about an hour after install two coats of acrylic polyurethane was brushed over top to achieve the same shrine as the walls and to protect the image. 


The space may at some point be professionally photographed, but for now the images taken with iPhone will have to suffice.

Using Format