Atlanta Ballet was founded seven decades ago by dance visionary Dorothy Alexander (1904-1986). Miss Dorothy had a dream of bringing quality ballet to the Atlanta community. The result was the Dorothy Alexander Dance Concert Group—the first step in the regional ballet movement that swept the nation. Upon gaining professional status in 1967, the company was renamed Atlanta Ballet. Today, under the artistic leadership of John McFall, Atlanta Ballet is the oldest professional dance company in America, the largest self-supported arts organization in Georgia and official Ballet of Georgia.
Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans the history of ballet; highlighted by the most beloved classics and the most inventive originals. Although a renowned leader in the promotion and education of dance, Atlanta Ballet’s roots have been firmly grounded in the community and playing a vital role in the city’s cultural growth and revitalization.
The Company has also served as an ambassador for Atlanta nationally and internationally, performing around the globe-from the stages of Taipei in Taiwan to the Presidential Palace and the Sejong Cultural Arts Center in Seoul, Korea. In 1996, the Company performed during the Olympic Arts Festival/Cultural Olympiad and in 1999 Atlanta Ballet debuted in London performing John McFall’s enchanting Peter Pan as the centerpiece of Royal Festival Hall’s millennium celebration.
In 1958, Miss Dorothy invited Robert Barnett, a soloist with the acclaimed New York City Ballet and a protégé of George Balanchine, to join the Company as a principal dancer. Upon her retirement in 1963, Barnett was named artistic director and introduced many Balanchine masterworks into the repertoire including The Nutcracker. For more than 30 years Barnett expanded Miss Dorothy’s dream of excellence.
John McFall became the Ballet’s third artistic director in 1994. McFall’s imagination and innovative vision have brought contemporary and modern dance premieres, numerous new full-length ballets and several world premiere productions to Atlanta. His pioneering spirit has inspired collaborations between Big Boi of OutKast, Indigo Girls, The Red Clay Ramblers, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Choir and the Michael O’Neal singers..
McFall has created an ensemble company of extraordinary professional dancers from every corner of the world including, Uraguay, Taiwan, China, Mongolia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States. McFall is eager to provide the country’s most innovative choreographers including Christopher Hampson, Laurie Stallings and Violette Verdy with an artistic home, while exposing Georgia audiences to exciting new works.
In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education, dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity though different courses. The Centre offers classes for children as young as four, an acclaimed pre-professional division and a spectrum of colorful dance classes ranging from modern and jazz to swing and hip-hop. Students enrolled in the Centre program enjoy opportunities to perform with the professional Company. Students receive first priority in casting for roles in the Nutcracker as well as other productions.
The Centre for Dance Education also prides itself on its renowned community outreach programs. School programs have increased the spirit and grades of thousands of metro Atlanta school children. The Centre has been a tireless leader of dance education.
Through endeavors such as these, Atlanta Ballet continues Miss Dorothy’s vision. Atlanta Ballet commitment to dance education and performance has inspired by expressing its commitment to share and educate Atlanta the empowering joy of dance with audiences everywhere.