After jump starting the holidays with its celebrated “Urban Nutcracker,” Ballethnic Dance Company will herald the coming Christmas –New Year season by offering two popular dance programs in mid-December. The first production, “Elevate Remix” focuses on original, neo-classical pieces from Ballethnic’s repertoire. The second program is Act II of the “Urban Nutcracker” –the Company’s whimsical and localized adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker” ballet. In both cases, Ballethnic is partnering with the Fulton County Arts Council to present these programs and staging them at its Southwest Arts Center off Cascade Road.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with the Atlanta community by presenting these two distinctive ballet productions,” said Waverly Lucas, II, Ballethnic’s co-founder and co-artistic director. “The ‘Elevate Remix’ program captures contemporary dance works that have become popular with our long-time patrons. ‘Urban Nutcracker Act II,’ which we call Wonderland, is a seasonal favorite with children and families.”
Elevate ReMix, December 14-15
Ballethnic will reprise its “Elevate Concert of Dance” – first presented this past October. Now titled “Elevate Remix,” the concert will showcase a special group of Ballethnic’s neo-classical works that were instrumental in framing the company’s signature style – its unique fusion of traditional ballet and ethnic dance forms.
“Many of our supporters who’ve followed Ballethnic from its inception in 1990, have urged us to revive some of the ballets that we first presented to the Atlanta community,” explained Nena Gilreath, Ballethnic’s co-founder and co-artistic director. “The first Elevate concert responded to those patrons and drew keen interest from new audiences,” she added. Elevate repeats key performances from that show:
“A major concert piece, ‘Alonzo,’ was choreographed by Mr. Lucas and vividly captures the similarities between martial arts and ballet,” Ms. Gilreath noted. “Alonzo was well received by audiences at the 1996 Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, and it won rave reviews from the New York Times.”
“Ne Blanc,” a new work by famed choreographer Dr. Mel Tomlinson, will have its second showing, Mr. Lucas noted. “In addition to his role as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, Dr. Tomlinson is our fellow alumnus from the Dance Theatre of Harlem.”
“Lover’s Trilogy,” by renowned choreographer Harry Bryce, will feature Ms. Gilreath and Mr. Lucas in a pas de deux (or dance of two). This performance will be special for the husband-and-wife team, as Mr. Lucas will be retiring from the company’s major dance roles in 2014.
Show dates are Saturday, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, at 3 p.m.
Urban Nutcracker Act II – Wonderland, December 21, 22
Urban Nutcracker is an imaginative and colorful adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet
by Ballethnic’s master chorerographer, Mr. Lucas. The “Wonderland” segment recreates Act II of the ballet –actually reflecting Ballethnic’s original production in 1990.
Set on Atlanta’s historic Auburn Avenue of the 1940’s, the ballet showcases Atlanta’s African-American community. An intergenerational cast of 80 dancers –including Company professionals, Ballethnic’s Youth Ensemble and talented elders from the H. J. C. Bowden Senior Center – perform the ballet. The production features the traditional Tchaikovsky score along with an adapted score by L. Gerard Reid.
The storyline is similar to the original Nutcracker ballet; but the characters differ. In the first act, Sarah (traditional, Clara) receives a nutcracker doll for a holiday gift from her mysterious uncle, Professor Isaac; she later dreams that the nutcracker becomes a handsome prince. Act I concludes after a beautiful dance by the Snow King and Queen, against a scenic snowy backdrop. In Act II, Sarah’s dreams take her on a journey to the “land of Sweet Auburn Avenue”; there, she and her young prince Leroy are greeted with delightful gifts and striking performers: a bubbly Coca-Cola pas de six on pointe, leaping Black Russians and tumbling Spice Drops. The queen of Auburn Avenue is Brown Sugar (traditional, Sugar Plum Fairy). She and the cavalier Chocolatier present Sarah and Leroy with an enchanting grand pas de due (dance with two).
In its totality, Urban Nutcracker takes audiences on a soulful celebration that heralds the holiday season.
Shows are set for Saturday at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.; and on Sunday, at 3 p.m.
General admission is $20 for adults, and $15 for seniors and children.
For show tickets, contact the Ballethnic office at 404/762-1416; or visit
the web site at www. Ballethnic.org.