Many familiar faces will return to the stage for Atlanta Ballet’s 83rd season. Of the 21-member professional company, 19 are returning from last season, including veteran company dancers John Welker (18th season), Tara Lee (17th season), Jonah Hooper (14th season), and Christian Clark (11th season).
For the first time in 18 seasons, ballet goers will not get a chance to see dancer Christine Winkler. Winkler, who’s also married to fellow company artist John Welker, will be on hiatus this season as she and Welker are expecting their first child this spring.
Dancers Alexandre Barros and Benjamin Stone will join the professional ranks after being promoted from fellowship and apprentice status respectively.
In addition to the 21 company dancers, four apprentices will perform this season, including newcomer Kiara Felder. Felder began her ballet training in Cary, North Carolina at Cary Ballet Conservatory. After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Kiara was awarded a full scholarship to continue her training as a Professional Division student at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. During her time there, she performed with Pacific Northwest Ballet in the corps of George Balanchine’s Le Baiser de la Fée and Copellia, and in Kent Stowell’s Nutcracker.
Since taking over in 1994, Artistic Director John McFall has consistently recruited a diverse group of dancers in style, technique and physicality. Beyond cultivating talent from within the Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education (Atlanta Ballet currently has nine former students in the company), his scouting efforts have yielded national and international recruits. This year more than 10 countries will be represented, including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Uruguay, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada, China, and Taiwan.
This season, three dancers from China – Li Xiwen, Su Yujing, and Fanlin Meng– will join the Centre for Dance Education pre-professional division as fellowship dancers courtesy of the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University. As a part of their curriculum, the dancers will have an opportunity to rehearse and perform with the professional company.
Atlanta Ballet’s 12-13 season begins in December with the 53rd production of Belk Presents Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. Season programming will also include the return of Michael Pink’s Dracula (Feb. 2013), the debut of world renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 (March 2013), and the North American premiere of British choreographer David Bintley’s Carmina Burana (April 2013).