UPDATE: Atlanta Ballet has released the following statement regarding news that five of its former dancers will form a new company:
"Atlanta Ballet was excited to hear from John Welker that he and four former Atlanta Ballet dancers are forming Terminus Modern Ballet Theater. We congratulate them on this bold and brave move and wish them all success. Atlanta is in need of a small, modern dance group of such amazing quality and talent, and we feel that Terminus will be a great addition to the fabric of dance in our community. As former students of Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education and veteran Atlanta Ballet company members, this group of dancers has been nourished by Atlanta Ballet’s mission to enrich and inspire audiences through the power of dance, and we are proud to see them continue to spread that sentiment throughout our city by sharing their passion, energy and creative spirits in a new way."
Following their departure from the Atlanta Ballet, five dancers have announced that they have formed their own dance company.
Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre is hoping to host an inaugural performance in October.
John Welker, who retired from the Atlanta Ballet after more than two decades in 2016, will serve as the director of the new company, although he stressed that decisions will be made collectively.
“As a startup we want to be sure that any decision that we make is a unanimous decision," he said.
Earlier this year, Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk and Christian Clark announced that they will leave the company at the end of the season. AJC's Amanda Coyne reported that Lee spent 21 seasons with the dance company, while Clark and Buskirk were with the Atlanta Ballet for 15 and 10 seasons, respectively. After seven seasons with the Atlanta Ballet, Heath Gill's contract was not renewed.
The dancers departed from the Atlanta Ballet as a result of artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin's decision to focus more on traditional ballet. Nedvigin succeeded former director John McFall, whose style was more contemporary.
All four dancers will join Welker at Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre, which is expected to have its first performance at the Westside Cultural Arts Center in West Midtown in October.
Welker said the group first started to consider forming their own collective last fall, although they kept the details a secret out of respect for ongoing relationships within the Atlanta Ballet.
“As people know, our roots go very deep within that organization," he said. "We have a lot of personal relationships that mean very much to us. We did not want to harm those relationships. This was a way for us to figure out what we wanted to do and keep everything in a positive light.”
Welker said the autonomy and freedom the five dancers had at the Atlanta Ballet was a key factor in deciding they wanted to form their own dance company, instead of heading elsewhere. The group's love for Atlanta also played a huge role in the decision.
“We all feel passionately that Atlanta is our home," Welker said. “We’ve all been here so long and we’ve fallen in love with this city that we wanted to stay here. We did not want to take our talents elsewhere, which would’ve actually been the easier thing to do.”