While walking through the Atlanta Botanical Garden on the way to the Rose Garden for Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi performance Thursday, August 21, garden-goers came upon a hawk savaging a squirrel’s nest. We watched the frantic mother squirrel attempting to save her nest and babies. It was a look at the violent side of nature.

There were moments in the Wabi Sabi performance that gave us a glimpse of the violent side of human nature, along with moments of glorious grace and boundless beauty.

Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photograph by Kim Kenney.

Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in “Angels’ Share,” by John Heginbotham. Photograph by Kim Kenney.

On the Atlanta Ballet website, Wabi Sabi is billed as “challenging the boundaries of ballet.” Founded by company dancer John Welker in 2011, Wabi Sabi is well into its fourth season. The company taps emerging choreographers to create new, often site-specific works, and brings those works into intimate, in-your-face venues and spaces. The project gives company dancers a chance to expand their abilities with new styles and new dances, and it gives upcoming choreographers the opportunity to work with world-class dancers.

This year’s slate of choreographers has changed the bar. These choreographers are more well-known than those of previous years, each having more than a handful of well-received ballets to his or her credit. I enjoyed the opportunity to see the work being created by new visiting choreographers. However, I also missed the works of some of our home-grown artists who, perhaps, have a specific understanding of the dancers’ capabilities, or maybe just a better sense of what the Atlanta audience will respond to.