Atlanta Ballet’s 2016-17 lineup to show new director’s influence

As incoming artistic director of Atlanta Ballet, Gennadi Nedvigin hopes to find a “new language” with local audiences. Recently appointed to the post, he has curated two of next season’s six programs, offering hints of his vision for the company.

Nedvigin announced Atlanta Ballet’s 2016-17 repertory Wednesday evening in a news conference at the Four Seasons Hotel.

He had just arrived in town after his official farewell performance as principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, though he’ll dance once more in the role of Lensky in John Cranko’s “Onegin,” San Francisco Ballet’s last performance of the season. Beginning Aug. 1, Nedvigin will take the reins of Atlanta Ballet as its fourth artistic director since its founding in 1929. The season bears stamps of Nedvigin’s vision as well as the legacy of outgoing artistic director John McFall.

It will be a transitional season, compiled with limited time, but with careful consideration, Nedvigin said.

The season will start on a familiar note with “Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker,” choreographed by McFall. February will bring a revival of David Bintley’s large-scale “Carmina Burana,” one of McFall’s most compelling acquisitions. After two triple bills curated by Nedvigin, the season will close with another McFall credit — Helen Pickett’s “Camino Real,” which received its world premiere with the company last spring. The original dance theater work, inspired by Tennessee Williams’ play, has been called Atlanta Ballet’s most remarkable creative achievement during McFall’s 21-year tenure.

In between those full-length narrative works will be the two triple bills curated by Nedvigin, who is aiming to offer a spectrum of classical, neoclassical and contemporary ballet works that reflect his training at the Bolshoi Ballet School in Moscow as well as the distinguished repertory he has danced with San Francisco Ballet.

In March, “Gennadi’s Choice” will reflect Nedvigin’s taste as repetiteur and curator. He’ll restage selections from “Paquita,” by Marius Petipa, whose language, developed in the late 19th century, is an anchor for all classical ballet. The program also will feature the North American premiere of “Vespertine” by Liam Scarlett, an artist in residence with London’s Royal Ballet, who’s been called a “wunderkind” choreographer. And Nedvigin has commissioned a world premiere from Gemma Bond, a member of American Ballet Theatre. The New York Times noted Bond’s flair for fast, intricate steps, “full-bodied expansiveness, humor and an inherent dramatic touch.”

April will mark a return to the classical canon with George Balanchine’s “Allegro Brilliante” to music by Tchaikovsky. The program also will feature Jiri Kylian’s “Petite Mort” and Yuri Possokhov’s “Firebird.” Set to Igor Stravinsky’s score and building on two successful runs of Possokhov’s “Classical Symphony,” it will be the second Possokhov work the company will perform, and there are likely to be more — Nedvigin is good friends with Possokhov, SFB’s choreographer in residence. Both trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School; Nedvigin has performed a number of his works.

At the news conference, Nedvigin recalled his first years dancing outside of Russia — first, with Le Jeune Ballet de France and a year later with San Francisco Ballet. It was a difficult time for him as a young dancer; he had to learn French quickly; then a year later, English.

But, through dance, he found a common language that has expanded with each style he has danced. He feels the new repertory will challenge audiences and help the dancers to become more versatile, fluent and enriched as artists; the more languages dancers can learn, the better.

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