AJC exclusive: Atlanta Ballet 2, a new training ensemble, will debut this fall


The spirit of Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi troupe — the former off-season company known for outdoor performances — has found a home in Atlanta Ballet 2, a new training ensemble aiming to bridge the gap between school and company. The troupe of 14 talented young dancers from across the globe will debut next season with the world premiere of Bruce Wells’ “Beauty and the Beast” and a new series of performances around town, including outdoor offerings in concert with Mother Nature.

Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin will announce the new ensemble Saturday evening, May 20, at the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education’s 20th anniversary gala celebration at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Like the school’s current Fellowship training program, Atlanta Ballet 2 aims to prepare talented, top-level students, ages 17-21, for professional careers with Atlanta Ballet and elsewhere. It will also fill out the ranks of large-cast company productions.

RELATED: 13 dancers leaving Atlanta Ballet after first year with new director

RELATED: Former Atlanta Ballet dancers form new dance company

Many professional dance companies have second companies. Atlanta Ballet 2 resembles these troupes, while emphasizing training and education. It’s designed to give young dancers a chance to experience the demands of life as a professional dancer, to strengthen their technique through intensive training, and to develop their artistry through performing.

Former Atlanta Ballet dancer Tara Lee, who danced with Joffrey II early in her career, explained how the experience prepared her for a professional career.

“You learn how to pace yourself throughout the day,” she said. “You learn to run all types of repertory, how to use class as a support, and how to facilitate a choreographer’s creative process.” Professional dancers tend to receive fewer corrections from teachers, she said. “You learn how to be your own teacher.”

Atlanta Ballet’s Fellowship program was established in 1997 to achieve similar goals, and to meet the company’s needs for dancers in large-scale productions. At that time, the school’s top students weren’t quite ready for the professional stage, said Sharon Story, dean of Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education. She helped develop a program offering special classes and company classes tuition-free, with a stipend and dance shoes provided. At first, Fellowship dancers also performed early morning school shows, which phased out as the company needed more dancers for larger story ballets.

In recent years, Atlanta Ballet’s repertory turned to smaller-cast ensemble works, which reduced the need for Fellowship students. Work for them became more sporadic, Story said. Three or four weeks often went by without a full day of rehearsals.

The inconsistent schedule made it difficult for Fellowship students to stay in top physical condition. As Nedvigin planned the company’s 2017-18 season, featuring “The Nutcracker,” “Don Quixote,” Act III from “Swan Lake” and three more world premieres — plus rehearsals for Yuri Possokhov’s new “Nutcracker” — it became clear that the students needed more consistent training, Story said.

RELATED: Atlanta Ballet unveils 2017-18 season under new artistic director

In addition, dancers needed to be ready to compete for spots in the company. “We had to make sure that they were as invested in us as we were invested in them,” Story said. PNC Financial Services Group, a patron of the school’s outreach and community programs, is providing substantial support.

Atlanta Ballet 2 offers dancers a full-time, 36-week contract and training program that will run parallel to the main company’s 38-week contract. The students’ daily schedule will run consistently with the company’s. Students will have a dedicated teacher, or coach, and will take additional classes in partnering, contemporary dance, character dance and repertory variations.

When they’re not in class, or rehearsing with the main company, AB2 dancers will be preparing a series of hourlong concerts for performances in venues across the metro area and perhaps the region. 

Nedvigin looks forward to bringing in emerging dance-makers — and company members who want to choreograph — to experiment with AB2 dancers, refine their crafts and possibly contend for main company commissions. Venues, such as Kennesaw State University’s Dance Theaterthe High Museum of Art, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, are the kinds of gateways Nedvigin seeks to cultivate audiences and discover new talent. 

 



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

What is Earth Day? 5 things to know
What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events. But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know: >> Read more trending news  The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought...
Concert review and photos: Pink flies high with dazzling return to Atlanta
Concert review and photos: Pink flies high with dazzling return to Atlanta

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene (This review was originally posted at 1:25 a.m. on April 22, 2018) Think what you want about Pink, but don’t doubt her integrity – as a musician, a performer, a humanitarian. She’s as real as it gets. So yeah, you try this while singing. Pink apparently has no problem! Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC...
Kim Zolciak likely departing ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ yet again
Kim Zolciak likely departing ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ yet again

Posted Sunday, April 22, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Here we go again. Kim Zolciak is not coming back to “Real Housewives of Atlanta” after a short-lived part-time stint season ten, according to Us magazine. Five years ago, Zolciak walked out on “The Real Housewives...
Inside the birth of the Weather Channel
Inside the birth of the Weather Channel

When the Weather Channel launched in 1982, its founder, John Coleman, knew he was on to the start of something important and something special. In its first night on air, he presciently told viewers that the channel would “become the nation’s primary source of weather information” and that it would “serve the nation with information...
Concert review and photos: Bon Jovi romps through classics at Philips Arena return
Concert review and photos: Bon Jovi romps through classics at Philips Arena return

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene Ten songs into a two-hour-plus romp, Bon Jovi went back to the very beginning. Amber lights created a halo around David Bryan’s curls as he tapped out the signature opening of the band’s first hit, 1984’s “Runaway.” David Bryan, in his usual spot. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC...
More Stories