ATLANTA BALLET’S 2018/19 SEASON, its third with artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin, began in September with a mixed-repertory program, ends in May with another mixed-rep program and features the company’s first new Nutcracker in 21 years.
The season spotlights work by what the ballet calls “top-tier” choreographers, including the December debut of the new Nutcracker by Russian-born Yuri Possokhov; a company premiere of Mark Morris’ Sandpiper Ballet; August Bournonville’s La Sylphide; a revival of Alexander Ekman’s Cacti; and world premieres from Liam Scarlett and Yury Yanowsky.
In Nedvigin’s short tenure, Atlanta Ballet has launched a new training ensemble named Atlanta Ballet 2; expanded its professional company from 28 to 32 dancers; and opened a new Centre for Dance Education location (in intown’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood).
In the next three years, Atlanta Ballet plans to add a total of 10 dancers to the main company and Atlanta Ballet 2, growing its professional corps from 32 to 42 and making it the largest contingent of dancers in the company’s 90-year history. An anonymous donor has contributed $1.5 million toward the effort, a ballet spokesman says.
Atlanta Ballet performances are at 8 p.m. Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday, primarily at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Other locations are noted, when necessary, below. Here’s a closer look.
THE NUTCRACKER. Dec. 8-24 at the Fox Theatre. The company said goodbye to longtime artistic director John McFall’s staging when last season’s run ended. It promises “a larger-than-life” rendition this year, choreographed by the Moscow-trained Possokhov, who’s known for his rich and diverse work. Possokhov danced with the Bolshoi Ballet before joining the Royal Danish Ballet as a principal dancer. He joined San Francisco Ballet in 1993 and spent 12 years there, performing leading roles, choreographing and eventually becoming choreographer in residence.
Atlanta Ballet’s first new Nutcracker in 21 years includes set designs by Tony Award nominee Tom Pye (Fiddler on the Roof), a projection design by Tony winner Finn Ross (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), costumes by Sandra Woodall and lighting by David Finn.
LA SYLPHIDE. Feb. 15-23, 2019. This ballet, dating to the 1830s, is considered one of the oldest surviving classical masterpieces and a lasting contribution to dance by Bournonville, a famous Danish choreographer. It tells a story of forbidden love and heartbreak set in the mist-shrouded Scottish Highlands, where a young man falls under the spell of a fairy-like spirit.
LOOK/DON’T TOUCH. March 22-24, 2019. Works by Morris, Yanowsky and Alexander Ekman. The most important question I ask myself before I begin creating a new work is, ‘Why do we need this piece,’” says the Swedish-born Ekman. Atlanta Ballet has danced his Cacti before, and says it pokes fun at what can be the pretentious nature of “high art,” describing the piece as “an energizing, laugh-out-loud romp.” Sandpaper Ballet by Morris, a legendary American choreographer, is a company premiere. A commission from Yanowsky, a recently retired Boston Ballet Dancer and emerging choreographer, closes the program.
MIXED REPERTORY. April 12-13, 2019. The program takes place in Sandy Springs at the new City Springs Performing Arts Center. It will include Return to a Strange Land, one of dance visionary Jiří Kylián’s signature celebrations of dancers’ physical limits; rising Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante’s The Premiere, an original work commissioned by Atlanta Ballet; and a divertissement of short works, including excerpts from ballet classics.
DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. May 10-12, 2019. Featuring a world premiere by Scarlett, Sum Stravinsky by Kiyon Gaines and Denouement by American Ballet Theatre’s Gemma Bond. Atlanta Ballet premiered the much-in-demand Scarlett’s Vespertine in 2017. Sum Stravinsky, The Boston Globe says, “bubbles constantly with engaging movement and overlapping groupings.” Denouement, a work created for Atlanta Ballet two seasons ago, returns. It features piano and cello accompaniment onstage, and explores the passage of time and how a single choice at a pivotal moment can set us on a trajectory we never imagined.