The Atlanta Ballet will wrap up this year’s season May 16-18 at the Cobb Energy Center with “MAYhem”, a mixed-repertoire concert of three works, including a reprise of Finnish Jorma Elo’s “1st Flash,” and two world premieres.

One of the premieres will be “THREE,” choreographed by Atlanta Ballet’s Artistic Director, John McFall.  The initial inspiration for the work was the music of Alexander Scriabin, a longtime favorite of the choreographer, who has been fascinated by the composer’s expression of the mystical. McFall has also been interested in dreams since his earliest years, and he is exploring the “scientific, academic, and theological concept of the fragmentation of dreams” through this piece. He notes that creating fragmentation required incorporating the music of other composers as well, and he has chosen an eclectic mix that includes Radiohead, David Lang, and Steve Reich to round out the score. Even while he is creating a work that has clearly been waiting for just the right time to emerge, McFall doesn’t

Jorma Elo's "1st Flash. " Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Jorma Elo’s “1st Flash. ” Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

neglect his responsibilities as Artistic Director. He allowed the other choreographers to cast their pieces first, and then offered dancing opportunities to performers who had not otherwise been used in this concert as his dancer/collaborators. In addition, cognizant of the dancer development that occurs during rehearsal and performance, he has chosen students from the Atlanta Ballet School to round out the cast. But he is careful to explain that he always chooses people he is interested in working with so that his work can be “rich, dense, [and] interesting,” and so that “every rehearsal furthers the ideas” with which he is creating the ballet.

Helen Pickett's Prayer of Touch. New Choreographic Voices. May 2012. Photo by Charlie McCullers. Atl Ballet

Helen Pickett’s Prayer of Touch. New Choreographic Voices. May 2012. Photo by Charlie McCullers. Atl Ballet

The other premiere is by Resident Choreographer Helen Pickett, who has recently moved and charmed Atlanta audiences with “Petal” and “Prayer of Touch.”  She says her choreography is always about the human condition, expressed through human communication and connection. “Petal” and “Prayer of Touch” explored the beauty of these interactions, but she says “The Exiled,” which is influenced by Henry Miller’s “The Time of the Assassins: A Study of Rimbaud,” looks at the “shadow side” and vigilantism, even while it has “moments of triumph and beauty”—McFall describes her work as getting “deep under the skin.” Daring to push the envelope for the choreography and the dancers, the piece includes a spoken script written by the choreographer in collaboration with the cast, in addition to the dance itself. She has also double-cast the piece, so you may want to see more than one performance. The music is by John Corrigliano; it is taken from several of his film scores, as diverse as “Altered States,” “The Red Violin,” and “Revolution.” Pickett has designed an enclosed space in which to present the dance; she is obviously excited about all aspects of the piece, from the choreography to the décor, costumes, and lighting.

Atlanta Ballet is billing “MAYhem” as “catapulting over the boundaries of contemporary dance.” For more information about the company or the May 16-18 performance, and to become a part of the remarkable conversation likely to occur between the dancers and the audience during this concert, visit