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Atlanta Ballet’s Love Stories Season Finale



Atlanta Ballet Taps the Passionate, Emotional and Unconventional in 12-13 Season Finale LOVE STORIES


Atlanta Ballet Premiere of “Requiem for a Rose” by Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Return of “Prayer of Touch” by Atlanta Ballet’s New Resident Choreographer Helen Pickett

Atlanta Premiere of Matthew Bourne’s White Swan Pas De Deux from his Critically Acclaimed All-Male “Swan Lake” (Performed by Guest Artists Dominic Walsh and Domenico Luciano)

ATLANTA – April 2013 – For its 12-13 season finale, Atlanta Ballet explores the theme of love through both classic and innovative choreography. Highlighting the athleticism and passion of Atlanta Ballet’s dancers, these performances find new meaning in the world’s greatest love stories. Love Stories will feature the Atlanta Ballet premiere of “Requiem for a Rose” by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and the return of “Prayer of Touch” by Atlanta Ballet’s new resident choreographer Helen Pickett. The program will also feature the White Swan pas de deux from choreographer Matthew Bourne’s revolutionary “Swan Lake” – regarded as a modern day classic since its world premiere in 1995.

Atlanta Ballet Premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Requiem for a Rose” – Music by Franz Schubert

In the tradition of introducing its audiences to the pioneers and trailblazers in dance, Atlanta Ballet brings another strong choreographic voice to its stage with the premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Requiem for a Rose.”

Set to an achingly romantic and longing adagio by Schubert, “Requiem for a Rose” is a zealous work that explores the transient nature of love. The dynamic piece envisions 12 dancers as a bouquet of roses, with bold and fluid movement hinging on a single heartbeat. Dance View Times described the ballet as a piece filled with “tender” moments that is “deftly and honestly crafted.”

The Belgian-Colombian choreographer began her dance making career in 2003 after 12 years as a professional dancer for Holland’s Scapino Ballet. In that same year she was hailed as a “rising star of the Dutch dance scene” (NRC newspaper) and, only 7 years later, the Temecula Performing Arts Examiner wrote: “Ochoa is truly a masterful choreographer with an edge for what dance can and should be in this constantly changing industry.”


Encore Presentation of Helen Pickett’s “Prayer of Touch” – Music by Felix Mendelssohn

Atlanta Ballet’s new resident choreographer Helen Pickett will present an encore presentation of her “Prayer of Touch” after an overwhelming response to its world premiere last season.

“’Prayer of Touch’ is one of the most exciting new ballet works I have seen lately, and should appeal to anyone who likes to watch dance,” said Backstage Beat writer Amy Howton. “Pickett’s choreography is expertly crafted, clever, smart, whimsical, witty, daring, and humorous.”

Creative Loafing reviewer Andrew Alexander also praised Pickett’s “Prayer:” “Helen Pickett… gives outrageously dramatic and humorous life to Mendelssohn violin music in ‘Prayer of Touch.’”

Wedding Night Pas de Deux from Stanton Welch’s “Madame Butterfly” – Music by Giacomo Puccini

One of the most romantic, heart-stopping duets from Australian choreographer Stanton Welch’s “Madame Butterfly” will also be included on Atlanta Ballet’s Love Stories program.

Named a “showstopper” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the pas de deux, set to the rich score of Giacomo Pucinni, is the romantic climax of one of the world’s greatest tragic love stories – the tale of a young geisha’s love for an American naval officer and his ultimate betrayal. The Telegraph called the piece “sexy and stunningly challenging.”

The full work was premiered by Atlanta Ballet in 2002.

Atlanta Premiere of Matthew Bourne’s White Swan Pas de Deux from his Blockbuster, All –Male “Swan Lake” – Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Performed by Guest Artists Dominic Walsh and Domenico Luciano)

For the first time ever, Atlanta audiences will have the opportunity to witness one of the biggest sensations in modern dance – the centerpiece duet from British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s Tony Award-winning “Swan Lake.”

Bourne, who is widely praised as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer, debuted the almost all-male “Swan Lake” in 1995 – eschewing tradition and turning the ballet world on its head. The ballet has toured steadily since, playing to more people than any other ballet in modern stage history. It’s the longest running ballet on Broadway, and in 2011 it reached an even broader audience when it was released in select theaters as a 3-D movie.

Bourne’s avant-garde interpretation of “Swan Lake” tells the timeless story of ill-fated, forbidden love with dynamic modern day flair. New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas described the ballet as “a painterly exploration of desire told through dance.” The ballet was called “a miracle” in a Time Out New York review.

For Atlanta’s premiere, the White Swan pas de deux will be performed by guest artists Domenico Luciano and Dominic Walsh of Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre (DWDT) in Houston, TX. DWDT first performed the duet in 2009 and is the only company outside of Bourne’s own that has been permitted to perform the work.

“Experiences like these are what we live for at Atlanta Ballet,” said John McFall, artistic director of Atlanta Ballet. “Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ is a choreographic masterpiece. It’s astoundingly inventive and quite simply genius, and we are lucky to have the chance to present a moment of this work to our audiences. We look forward to this opening the door to bring more of Bourne’s work to Atlanta.”

Atlanta Ballet’s Love Stories runs for four performances Mother’s Day weekend, Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 12, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre – 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339. Tickets start as low as $20 and are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit or call 404-892-3303.
About Atlanta Ballet

Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the country and the official state Ballet of Georgia. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. After 84 years, Atlanta Ballet continues its commitment to share and educate audiences on the empowering joy of dance. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education and is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The Centre serves over 150,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet’s roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city’s cultural growth and revitalization. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @atlantaballet, and like us on Facebook at


Atlanta Ballet Season Finale: Love Stories
– Atlanta Ballet premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Requiem for a Rose”
– Return of Choreographer Helen Pickett’s “Prayer of Touch”
– Atlanta Premiere of White Swan Pas de Deux from “Swan Lake” by Matthew Bourne
– Wedding Night Pas de Deux from “Madame Butterfly” by Stanton Welch

WHERE: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre – 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339
WHEN: May 10-12, 2013 (4 Performances – Mother’s Day Weekend)
Friday, May 10 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 – 2:00 p.m.

Performance Description: For its 12-13 season finale, Atlanta Ballet explores the theme of love through both classic and innovative choreography. Highlighting the athleticism and passion of Atlanta Ballet’s dancers, these performances find new meaning in the world’s greatest love stories. Love Stories will feature the Atlanta Ballet premiere of “Requiem for a Rose” by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and the return of “Prayer of Touch” by Atlanta Ballet’s new resident choreographer Helen Pickett.
Ticket Information: Tickets start as low as $20 and are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit or call 404-892-3303.


“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward



Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker” Enchants



© Laura Christian

This year, the Atlanta Ballet marks the 20th anniversary of Artistic Director John McFall’s “The Nutcracker.” Attendance is a familiar holiday season tradition for many area families, who line up to see the changes and improvements that occur each year. While the story of the young girl who receives a Nutcracker-who-comes-to-life is familiar to thousands of ballet fans, there are many versions. The Atlanta Ballet’s production is richly designed and elegantly danced.

Originally a failure in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892, “The Nutcracker” is now a holiday staple in the United States. Nobody dances it any better than the Atlanta Ballet, and nobody loves it more than a matinee house full of children! Whether they are watching their peers on-stage; hearing the Georgia Youth Choir singing in the Snow scene from the boxes; absorbing the live music from the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra in the pit; laughing with joy at Mother Matrushka’s children, emerging from under her skirts; screaming with glee at the capering Chinese Dragon; or reaching far above their heads to capture a snowflake, the children are enraptured for the two-plus hours the ballet is on the stage—and the adults are mesmerized right beside them.

Mother Matrushka in Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” Photograph by C. McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

There are some elements of this version of the ballet that are not my favorites, but the dancers didn’t make that list. Casting is impeccable, and, for me, part of the excitement of revisiting the old standby is seeing the dancers mature, improve, and demonstrate new abilities. The other part is watching the children captivated by the allure of the Fabulous Fox Theatre, the live music, the dancers, and the dancing—and being enthralled myself.

My list of this year’s positives goes like this:

John McFall has to contend with decreasing audience attention spans as we move further into the age of technology, and he tweaks Act I each year to make it more exciting. It is fast-paced. You may want to see the ballet more than once to catch everything! The foreshadowing during Act I was clear and well-conceived, and had the audience eagerly anticipating the return of the dancers to the stage after intermission.

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Kurtis Blow and the Hip Hop Nutcracker



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A holiday mash-up for the entire family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary work set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, embarks on an international tour on the strength of last December’s sold-out performances of the world premiere at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) in New York City. The Hip Hop Nutcracker will make a stop at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m.


The Hip Hop Nutcracker is directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, artistic director of the all-female hip-hop crew Decadancetheatre in Brooklyn. It is adapted to today’s New York by Mike Fitelson, executive director of UPCA – the work’s original producer – and includes hip-hop interludes remixed and reimagined by DJ Boo and violinist Filip Pogády.

For its stop at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 28, The Hip Hop Nutcracker features special guest MC Kurtis Blow, one of the founders and creators of recorded rap music.

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