Beloved version of ‘Nutcracker’ ends with 2017-18 Atlanta Ballet season


After 21 years, the Atlanta Ballet’s traditional holiday production of “Nutcracker,” as choreographed by former artistic director John McFall, will have its final run this year. New artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin has commissioned Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer with San Francisco Ballet, to create a new version of the holiday classic, set for a 2018 premiere.

The newly announced 2017-2018 season is the first fully curated lineup from Nedvigin. Of dozens of ballets he danced with San Francisco Ballet, Stanton Welch’s “Tu Tu” is one that he most wants to share with Atlanta.

“It really fell into my heart, that ballet, and that piece of music, because it was just simply so beautiful,” Nedvigin said.

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“Tu Tu” is part of a rich and varied Atlanta Ballet season that starts with “The Nutcracker” and moves into a fresh take on the 19th-century ballet “Don Quixote.” The season will pull from the classical canon while keeping the company’s innovative spirit, with a revival of Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16” and three new commissions. In addition, some of Nedvigin’s favorite neoclassical works promise romance and layered emotion, with undercurrents of Jazz Age glamour.

Possokhov’s Spanish-flavored “Don Quixote,” based lightly on Cervantes’ novel, will debut in Atlanta next February.

March 2018 will bring Marius Petipa’s Act III from “Swan Lake,” a timeless story of love, treachery and forgiveness. As with “Don Quixote,” the piece will include various styles of character dancing, a classical tradition that Atlanta Ballet has rarely performed in recent years, Nedvigin said. Also featuring the famous Black Swan pas de deux, this work will likely appeal to audiences ranging from ballet aficionados to fans of the Natalie Portman film “Black Swan.”

The March program will also feature a world premiere by Craig Davidson, a relatively young Australian-born choreographer. Nedvigin singled out his work from among many submissions. He respected Davidson’s training and repertory experience, as well as the artist’s musical taste and original style filled with boldly thrust lines, kinetic flow and bright musicality. Davidson’s style blends well with classical works, Nedvigin said, and he aims to commission a large company work that will link the season’s classical works with more contemporary ballets.

In April 2018, the company will revive Naharin’s “Minus 16” and will present a new work by Atlanta Ballet company member Tara Lee. Also on the April bill, Welch’s “Tu Tu,” set to Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for Piano in G Major, subtly recalls George Gershwin’s music, and this will point to May’s concert, featuring George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?”

Inspired by Balanchine’s early collaborations with Gershwin, “Who Cares?” blends neoclassical ballet with 1930s-era Broadway glitz. It will offer a strong counterpart to a new work by Max Petrov of the Mariinsky Theatre and Helgi Tomasson’s “7 for Eight,” set to seven movements of four Bach concerti and built for eight dancers. The ballet is one of Tomasson’s most enduring works.

“It has a very romantic feel to it,” Nedvigin said of his former director’s ballet. At the same time, different couples, trios and solos interweave to create layered emotional texture and flair, Nedvigin said.

In the future, Nedvigin hopes to increase company ranks and expand its repertoire with a variety of notable works and new ballets. He also hopes to generate more interest in Atlanta Ballet — here and elsewhere — among dancers, critics, audiences and other directors, Nedvigin said. “I want their heads to turn toward us.”



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