En Pointe: Aspiring dancers join new Atlanta Ballet 2

Photos by Brian Wallenberg

For decades, dancers from all over the world have leapt at the chance to perform with the prestigious Atlanta Ballet. Now, the company’s Centre for Dance Education has launched a new ensemble for aspiring dancers aged 17 to 21 called Atlanta Ballet 2.

“Atlanta Ballet 2 really is the bridge from student to professional dancer and offers the last finishing touches of training,” said Sharon Story, dean of the Centre for Dance Education.

The inaugural season for Atlanta Ballet 2 started mid-August and will run 36 weeks. As soon as the dancers arrived in Atlanta, they started choreographing with Bruce Wells for the world premiere of Beauty and the Beast. As the program progresses, they will receive classes and coaching from Atlanta Ballet mentors and will rehearse with the company.

Because of the Atlanta Ballet’s legacy, it has become a dream destination for dancers internationally, as well as stateside. Auditions for Atlanta Ballet 2 were held in Atlanta, New York and Barcelona, and the 13 dancers selected hail from Australia, Guatemala, Korea, Japan and Spain.

The Atlanta Ballet is the oldest professional company in the United States, founded in 1929, and is also one of the few companies with such long enduring artistic directors. Story said current Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin developed Atlanta Ballet 2 as a way to expand on the center’s former Fellowship program and pave the way for dancers who wish to become a professional company member.

Not only will the dancers in Atlanta Ballet receive priceless instruction and opportunities, they will receive a stipend and shoes. This is a valuable offer since dancers at the elite level can go through countless ballet slippers. When dancing six hours a day, Story said the dancers are estimated to go through three pairs of shoes a week, or even one pair a day, depending on what they are working on. The Atlanta Ballet typically purchases stock pointe shoes from either Capezio or Bloch and each pair of pointe shoes costs $75 to $95, on average.

Ballet fans can see Atlanta Ballet 2 dancers perform on the traditional stage as well as venues around the city, including Piedmont Park and the High Museum.This holiday season the dancers will perform at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta and the highly anticipated annual “The Nutcracker” at the Fox Theater.

For more information, visit atlantaballet.com.

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