Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wabi Sabi Brings Dance to the People

Trip the Light Fantastic was beyond brilliant! 

Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi recently returned to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for the fifth summer of performances, and even though a brief rainstorm preceded the performances, the dancers garnered an enthusiastic following—literally.


Atlanta Ballet - Wabi Sabi, IDYLL | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Ballet - Wabi Sabi, IDYLL | Atlanta Botanical Garden

The evening's program was comprised of four numbers throughout the 30-acre Garden, each near or within one of the six Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden installations, and hundreds followed them throughout the evening eager for a chance to see our world-class dancers up close and personal.


Atlanta Ballet - Wabi Sabi, IDYLL | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Ballet - Wabi Sabi, IDYLL | Atlanta Botanical Garden

Choreographed by Atlanta Ballet danceur Heath Gill, the first performance, titled IDYLL, was performed by Sara Havener, Jackie Nash and Jared Tan.

The performance was delightfully playful and beckoned childhood memories of playing outside. It was lighthearted, yet profound and graceful. It spoke to the seriousness of being an imaginative child as much as it did the merriment of being oblivious to the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood. Simply put, it was fun.


Heath Gill, Atlanta Ballet | Wabi Sabi | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Heath Gill, Atlanta Ballet | Wabi Sabi | Atlanta Botanical Garden

Heath Gill, Atlanta Ballet danceur and choreographer—IDYLL was his second performance as choreographer for Atlanta Ballet—is a personal favorite. Because he's incredibly talented, but also from a sense of nostalgia. 

You see, he was among the performers the first time I saw Atlanta Ballet, which was a Wabi Sabi program performed at Atlanta Botanical Garden. This particular event was something of a homecoming for me. I'm grateful Heath was gracious to grant me a photo op on the very ground where his dance was performed.

And it was quite rewarding—as a fan of Heath and Atlanta Ballet—to see so many approach him after the IDYLL performance and personally congratulate him, not only for his brilliant choreographic work on this particular performance, but also for his staring role in the recent world premiere of Camino Real

Whoever added Heath to Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" had brilliant insight.


Three Degrees, Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Three Degrees, Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden

Speaking of dancing, did you know that Bruce Munro's Three Degrees was inspired by Diana Ross of The Supremes? Look at them again...you see the sequin-clad dancers now, don't you? I think this is my favorite of the six installations of Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden and it was created for this exhibition, so you're among the first to ever see this work.


There's also Supremes-era music playing in the Orchid Center where this exhibit is located. Once visitors make the Diana Ross connection, the music makes total sense...it's awesome to watch the wave of connection wipe across people's faces.

This exhibit, like the others, is beautiful in daylight, but you get the full effect when the sun goes down. The upper lights—fiber optics—look like strings...until post-sunset when you can see their true brilliance.


Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Bruce Munro: Light in the Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden

The third number, Ganesha, was choreographed and performed by Meaghan Muller, former Cirque du Soleil aerial artist, in the Rose Garden, and she was magnificent!

The above photo show Garden patrons gathering for her performance, but immediately before that...


Atlanta Ballet, Wabi Sabi, between | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Ballet, Wabi Sabi, between | Atlanta Botanical Garden

...in the new Gardens in Storza Woods, which opened just last month, was the second performance of the evening that included four vignettes. The dancers in this number included Alexandre Barros, Lydia Redpath, and John Welker, the two decade veteran of Atlanta Ballet and founder of Wabi Sabi, which was launched in 2011.

Not named on the program (but obviously planned) for this particular number was Meaghan Muller, but I had the serendipitous vantage of having selected the observation point where she performed throughout the majority of the number.


Atlanta Ballet, Wabi Sabi, between | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Ballet, Wabi Sabi, between | Atlanta Botanical Garden

This number, titled "between", was from my point of view a remarkable love story. Meaghan's character observed, first nearby and later from afar, sometimes actively, sometimes longingly, and eventually, one of the three in the faraway clique noticed her and fell in love...seemingly, love at first sight.

They met mid-pond, mid-reflecting pool, and strolled arms intertwined toward the Canopy Walk into the setting sun.

The fourth and final number of the evening was "the swimmer", a coincidentally apt name given the performance was moved from the Great Lawn into Day Hall due to the earlier rain. Choreographed by Tara Lee, the performers were Alexandre Barros, Kiara Felder, Sara Havener, Lydia Redpath, Jared Tan, John Welker and Olivia Yoch.


Earth Goddess | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Earth Goddess | Atlanta Botanical Garden

If you've never been to Atlanta Botanical Garden and you come for this summer's Light in the Garden exhibition, be sure you find Earth Goddess...all 25 fee of her! 

I love that Earth Goddess is a permanent exhibit, following the two-year Imaginary Worlds exhibition. And I love hearing other visitors saying the same or gasping at her beauty when they see her for the first time. She's a true treasure for the Garden and I'm certain she's a fan of Wabi Sabi.

There are several more opportunities to see Wabi Sabi this summer, and at some fantastic venues! Here are some of the announced performances:

"WHIM" at Sautee Nacoochee
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

"WHIM" at the High Museum of Art
Friday, August 21, 2015
Performance begins 7:00 p.m.

"WHIMat Serenbe
Sunday, August 23, 2015
performance begins at 5:00 p.m.

Atlanta Ballet Block Party
Atlanta Ballet's Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Party 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Some events require tickets. Be sure to double-check Atlanta Ballet's website for Wabi Sabi performance updates.

What is Wabi Sabi and why should you see it this summer? Atlanta Ballet says it best:
"Wabi Sabi takes its name from a Japanese worldview that finds beauty in the sincerity, simplicity, and integrity of the natural world. As one of the newest dance initiatives in Atlanta, Wabi Sabi combines our city's own emerging choreographers with beautiful and engaging venues for amazing outdoor performances that bring art to the people."
I'll see you around Atlanta for some amazing dance...and be sure to check out Atlanta Ballet's exciting 2015-2016 season

1 comment:

Thorough Lad said...

They were so accommodating and I was truly impressed. It is such a comfortable environment. For a buffet, it was delicious food. Alcoholic beverages were also great. Overall, these LA event venues are great, and my favorite venue in the city.