Atlanta Life and Culture

The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

Atlanta Ballet plans McFall tribute, revivals, premieres for 2015-16

There is a strong retrospective aspect to Atlanta Ballet’s 2015-16 season lineup, marking artistic director John McFall’s 20th year leading the venerable company.

Being announced today, exclusively in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the schedule includes one program celebrating McFall’s two decades at the helm and two others featuring restagings of creative and commercial successes that he nurtured: “Moulin Rouge — The Ballet” and “Twyla Tharp’s Princess & the Goblin.”

But while McFall is thankful for the gestures of appreciation, he protests that he’s too busy pushing forward to wax sentimental.

“You know, we live in the moment,” he said in an exclusive interview with the AJC. “And, in the development and evolution of an arts organization, you do what’s appropriate at that moment.”

Given its world premiere by Atlanta Ballet in 2012, Twyla Tharp's "The Princess and the Goblin" returns for the 2015-16 season. CONTRIBUTED BY KIM KENNEY

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To him, it’s far from an exercise in nostalgia to remount Jorden Morris’ “Moulin Rouge,” which Atlanta Ballet gave the U.S. premiere to in 2010, and Tharp’s work, a world premiere here in 2012, because both are important pieces in his company’s repertoire and he believes his dancers put their mark on them.

As well, the program honoring his own mark, “20/20: Celebrating 20 Years with Artistic Director John McFall,” includes a remounting of 2011’s “Home in 7,” Amy Seiwert’s Atlanta-inspired dance based on seven poems by Morehouse College graduate Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

“No two performances are ever the same,” said McFall, only the third Atlanta Ballet artistic director since its founding in 1929. “There are so many factors that influence the spontaneity. … The art of dance is not like a beautiful painting hanging on a wall in the Smithsonian where generations over many years are going to respond to it. It’s that performance. It’s alive.”

McFall believes that, a few years after major dances premiere, audiences typically are ready to see them anew — or, if they missed them the first time around, to catch up to them.

But for Atlanta dance aficionados who enjoy watching the company rise to the challenge of mounting new contemporary dance, the 2015-16 season includes two premieres (with a third to be announced).

It will present a world premiere by Andrea Miller, artistic director of New York’s Gallim Dance, and the Atlanta premiere of Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s “El Beso,” both in the season-closing mixed-rep “Mayhem” program.

Amid its release of 2015-16 season details, Atlanta Ballet also is announcing that it is extending the contract of choreographer in residence Helen Pickett through 2017. Pickett has created three world premieres for the company since her appointment in 2012, including “Camino Real,” opening Friday at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Read about the performance on the subscriber site

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The AJC Features Team spotlights arts previews, reviews, profiles, news features and breaking news on Atlanta's cultural and life scene.

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