Friday, April 17, 2015

10 Reasons & 10 Ways to Support Atlanta Ballet

A new love affair is always exciting. Especially when it's one that has developed over the years. 

Although I've been a fan of dance all my life—you should have seen me in the 80s and 90s—looking back, even I was surprised to realize that I've attended three Atlanta Ballet performances since December. Each was unique and absolutely thoroughly magnificent. I've always admired dance—in its many forms—but I can now say that I'm a true fan, a love affair of sorts, of ballet. With a particular zeal for Atlanta Ballet. 

In December, my best friend treated me to Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker. In February I treated myself to Romeo et Juliette—Gold Section seats!—and just last month, Atlanta Ballet treated me to the world premiere of Camino Real. Already I can hardly wait for the next performance!

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney


In a relatively brief period of time, the dancers, choreographers, costumer designers, performance venues, administration and marketing (my apologies to anyone I left out) have made me a major fan of Atlanta Ballet and I'd like to share with you a few reason you may want to join me in supporting them. In no particular order...

1. Opening Night!

Atlanta Ballet knows how to do Opening Night! And a Red Carpet Opening Night is a fantastic experience. Most recently I attended Opening Night of Camino Real with my dear friend Nancy and our pre-show and intermission experience at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre was magnificent.

Pre-show and intermission entertainment varies from show to show, but in my brief experience it includes a DJ spinning lively music, dance performances, specialty cocktails, there's a gift shop, usually more than one private reception going on, and when attending Romeo et Juliette in February, I and hundreds of others were witness to a proposal of marriage. She said, "Yes!" 

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney

2. Camino Real

"Pickett had debuted her first full-length work, a daunting challenge with dramatic narrative based on a difficult play. A well-tuned collaboration between Pickett, composer Peter Salem, set designers David Finn and Emma Kingsbury, and costume designer Sandra Woodall, Camino is one of the most unusual and original dance collaborations the company has ever produced." - ArtsATL

Cynthia Bond Perry's ArtsATL review of Camino Real is particularly well-written, especially for an audience that follows dance. I invite you to read it in its entirety. I definitely agree with her use of the word "unusual", for it was that indeed. But in the most wonderful of ways. For the skeptics who envision taking a nap at the ballet...not going to happen at a performance of Camino Real! It's incredibly mesmerizing.

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Charlie McCullers

3.  Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker

Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker has been a favorite tradition for many since 1995. 

And for many young Atlantan's (and us older one's too), it was a first experience of Nutcracker, a first experience of The Fox Theatre, and a first experience of Atlanta Ballet, perhaps even the first time seeing a ballet!

I can't even imagine Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker not being part of all the spectacular holiday offerings Atlanta has to offer, especially one this special. I've met people who have seen it many, many times and others who have wanted to see it for years. I'm well on my way to being in the first group and if you're in the latter group, I hope you'll remedy that this December.

4. Atlanta Ballet Orchestra

If you're a fan of live music performances—a great majority of Atlantans are—then you're in for quite the treat. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra performs live every performance. I wish we saw more of them, but we do have the opportunity to express our gratitude with applause—and I encourage you to applaud loudly!

Atlanta Ballet has deep roots in live music. In fact, in 1946 the Company became the first in the nation to help fund a symphony by donating that season's proceeds to the Atlanta Youth Symphony, which later became the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

For this year’s world premiere of Camino Real, the Company commissioned an original score. It was new for the composer, the orchestra, the choreographer, the dancers and it was new for the delighted audiences who attended that world premiere weekend.

I've never heard anything like it—quite likely because there is nothing like it—and it was remarkable! Congratulations to all who created and brought the score to life.

5. They're Environmentally Responsible

The Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre, Atlanta Ballet headquarters, was designed and constructed to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Centre achieved LEED-Gold certification when it opened in 2010.

Even more impressive, Atlanta Ballet is the only arts organization in the country whose headquarters has LEED-Gold certification, the second highest achievement for LEED certification! I would even suggest that Atlanta Ballet was a pioneer among Atlanta organizations to adopt such a strong sustainability stance so early.

At 55,000 square feet, the West Midtown headquarters is twice the size of its former location and only the sixth location in the Company's more than 85 year history. The facility houses five (5) full size dance studios, a physical therapy suite, a student library, a massive costume shop, nearly 8,000 square feet of office space, a full-service box office and a LOT more! Impressive doesn't begin to describe it.

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Kim Kenney

6. Heath Gill

Atlanta Ballet danseur Heath Gill is the one company member I've seen perform more than any other. Between Wabi Sabi performances, Nutcracker at The Fox Theatre and performances at Cobb Energy Center, I've lost count of how many times I've seen him. There's comfort in familiarity, of course, but Heath's love for what he does shows in his performance. That I admire.

The Atlanta Ballet company dancers range in experience from debut season to 20th season! And they represent a vast array of experience and quite a few countries. The breadth of possibilities for what to expect from this compilation of talent is practically infinite. It's wonderfully exciting is what it is!

7. Nadia Mara

During the press preview for Camino Real, Nadia Mara was a mere few feet away from me—they were running scenes for us in the main dance studio, with mid-construction sets in place—that was pretty cool. 

Nadia gave a performance of an intoxicated young lady unlike anything I've ever seen on a Hollywood big screen. On film, she'd be an Oscar-winning actress, but I'm quite happy to be able to see her perform live as a heart-winning ballerina.

8. Set Design & Fabrication

The set for Camino Real was designed and fabricated at Atlanta Ballet's West Midtown headquarters. I had the awesome opportunity to see those sets mid-fabrication during a press preview about two weeks before opening night.

Check this out...when they moved to West Midtown, they built their main dance studio to scale of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center stage, where the Atlanta Ballet is a resident company. So, you can imagine just how much that facilitates rehearsals, as well as set design.

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real, Set Fabrication | Photo: Kim Kenney
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real, Set Fabrication | Photo: Kim Kenney

9. Costume Design and Fabrication

Costumes for Camino Real, being a world premier, were designed, by Sandra Woodall, and fabricated at the Atlanta Ballet campus. You should see their Costume Shop! It's the size of a department store...a mesmerizing and magical place. 

I've had the pleasure of seeing the Costume Shop twice...once four years ago at a networking event and again recently. It's still a treasure trove of ensembles that will evoke a flood of marvelous memories. There are many, many shows represented in that majestic closet!  

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real Costume Concept | Photo: Atlanta Ballet
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real Costume Concept | Photo: Atlanta Ballet

10. You're Supporting Someone's Dream

We all have aspirations and that one dream career that we're either in or working toward. Believe me when I tell you that it takes more than a village to produce and perform even one Atlanta Ballet show. By supporting Atlanta Ballet, you're supporting the dreams of dancers, choreographers, musicians, engineers, costume designers, facility managers, marketing professionals, set designers...the list goes on and on!

And please have a look at what they're doing at their multi-campus Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education!

Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Charlie McCullers
Atlanta Ballet | Camino Real | Photo: Charlie McCullers


Please allow me to share a few ways that you can support Atlanta Ballet. Some of these are obvious, but oftentimes the obvious eludes us or we forget by time we're in a place to take action. So, I offer these these as inspiration, or at the very least may they serve as reminders. In no particular order...
I encourage you to pick at least one—or turn the whole list into a checklist!—and have fun supporting the performing arts and Atlanta Ballet

How will I support Atlanta Ballet, you ask? I will continue to attend performances, I'll continue to share their magnificence on Social Media, and I've always wanted to learn how to tap dance, so don't be surprised if one day I share of video of my inaugural dance recital, the result of classes offered through Atlanta Ballet!

In case you missed it, here's a look at the one-of-a-kind, totally mesmerizing performance that I hope is a show that will tour the world, Camino Real...

One last thing. It means a lot to me, and I think most would agree, to see Atlanta Ballet embrace and demonstrate their Mission Statement:
To enrich the human spirit through dance; inspire through performance and empower through education, while building on the rich legacy of the art of dance.
Well, it's now after midnight and tonight is Opening Night of The Best of Modern Choreographic Voices, three ballets in one performance! It's at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center through Sunday, so get your tickets now. 

I'll see you at the ballet!

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