The Atlanta Ballet’s season was recently announced, and this season’s schedule is packed with family ballets, beloved returning performances, new ballets, new venues, and my personal passion, New Choreographic Voices. John McFall and the Board have outdone themselves in putting together a season filled with something for everyone.
Audience favorites are expected to be the return of Michael Pink’s Dracula; a U.S. debut of Carmina Burana, by British choreographer, David Bintley; and the Atlanta debut of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s experiential Gaga piece, Minus 16, which has received extensive, worldwide critical acclaim, and which was recently performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater . However, families and traditionalists will be happy to see both a re-created Nutcracker, which opens the season at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, and a one-hour family version of Cinderella at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center, a new venue for the Atlanta Ballet. The world premiere of I Am, by Gina Patterson, will join Minus 16 on the New Choreographic Voices program. And finally, the mixed repertoire “Love Stories” will close the season. (The full schedule can be found at the end of this article.)
The Atlanta Ballet family is welcoming some new dancers, including two young men, Alexandre Barros and Benjamin Stone, who have been promoted to the company, and four apprentices who will perform as well. Three dancers from China will be joining the pre-professional division as fellowship dancers, courtesy of the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University.
But what was that about family? In the press and season-ticket-holder preview event earlier this month, “family” was a word heard frequently. Artistic Director John McFall used it a lot, speaking of the Atlanta Ballet company and also of the greater, worldwide dance community. He definitely oversees the company as a benevolent parent would, looking out for his dancers’ welfare physically, artistically, and personally. They return the feeling, with Heath Gill, Jackie Nash, and Rachel Van Buskirk all speaking eloquently of the company and the Artistic Director as family. I believe this sense of belonging enriches the ensemble: they dance as a tightly-knit unit, supporting one another and cheering each other’s accomplishments. They are a diverse group, with more than 10 countries represented in the company, and the resulting diverse styles and personalities enhance the company’s performances. The proof of the success of the model promoted by Mr. McFall is that nineteen dancers are returning to the company this season, and several dancers have many years with Atlanta Ballet. (Go to the company artists’ page at www.atlantaballet.com to see for yourself!) Just as with other athletes, more experience as a team improves the players’ performance.
[Speaking of family, Christine Winkler will not perform this season for the first time in eighteen years, as she and her husband, company member John Welker, are expecting their first child in the spring.]
And don’t forget the 250 or so young dancers who will join the professional company, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, and the Georgia Youth Choir for the Nutcracker in December. Now, that’s a BIG family! It is noteworthy that nine former Atlanta Ballet students, children who began their performing careers in an Atlanta performance of Nutcracker, perhaps, are now company members. I am looking forward to watching for some exceptional talent among the mice and soldiers, and I’ve been told this year’s performance includes even more magic. My only regret is that I’m told that the schedule didn’t permit a Nutty Nutcracker.
BELK PRESENTS ATLANTA BALLET’S NUTCRACKER (Full-evening Ballet)
December 7-26, 2012 | The Fabulous Fox Theatre
Live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra
CINDERELLA (One-hour Family Performance)
January 4-6, 2013 | NEW VENUE: Gwinnett Performing Arts Center
AND February 16-17, 2013 | Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Michael Pink’s DRACULA (Full-evening Ballet)
February 8–16, 2013 | Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra
NEW CHOREOGRAPHIC VOICES (Mixed Repertory)
Featuring the Atlanta Ballet Premiere of Israeli Choreographer Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16”
World Premiere of “I AM” by Choreographer Gina Patterson
March 22-24, 2013 | Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
David Bintley’s CARMINA BURANA (Full-evening Ballet)
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
April 12–14, 2013 | Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Live with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Georgia State University Singers
LOVE STORIES (Mixed Repertory)
May 10–12, 2013 | Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
For more information on Atlanta Ballet’s 12-13 season, including ticket information, call 404-873-5811 or visit Atlanta Ballet at www.atlantaballet.com.