The wait is over for Terminus’ ‘Everything is Waiting’ at Stillwell Theater May 21

Co-founders Rachel Van Buskirk and Christian Clark are frequent partners in Terminus’ ballets.

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Co-founders Rachel Van Buskirk and Christian Clark are frequent partners in Terminus’ ballets.

With a one-night-only performance of Tara Lee’s “Everything Is Waiting,” Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre will close a season marked by return and migration, a disappointing cancellation and promising new growth.

Terminus had plans to perform “Everything Is Waiting” at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts in March, but director John Welker made a tough call to cancel the two scheduled shows to avoid an anticipated financial loss. The work has been rescheduled for May 21 at Kennesaw State University’s Stillwell Theater.

According to Lee, the work is about “the anxiety and perpetual discontent of contemporary existence.” At its heart lies the central question: “How do we live in this world and stay grounded in our connections with each other, when so much that is urgent but not necessarily important consumes our time and attention?”

Terminus and Atlanta have both evolved since the company premiered “Everything Is Waiting” in March 2019 during Atlanta’s Off the EDGE contemporary dance festival. For Lee, restaging an existing work in a transformed context provides unique opportunities for artists and audience alike.

While the rush to finish a new work can be exciting, the process of reviving something from the repertory creates space for choreographer and dancers to go deeper, to add color and nuance to gesture and characterization. “I enjoy the chance to see artists attack it, to really get into the movement and go for things,” Lee says.

Describing the process this time around and how the pandemic hiatus affected her interpretation, Terminus veteran and co-founder Rachel Van Buskirk said: “Tara created a work that gives the dancer a journey, from a state of anxiety to joy and freedom by the end. That reflects how I feel being back to live performances and how much I relish that gift. To go from a place of uncertainty and not knowing, to knowing passionately that this is where I’m meant to be.”

Similarly, Lee invites audiences to “sit forward in their seats and project their experience into it, to read it on all levels — metaphorically as well as literally.” In the wake of an ongoing global pandemic and a new war in Europe, the problem of managing information overload and distinguishing the “important” from the “urgent” has become more fraught. The scenes of quotidian office life and communal activity that populate “Everything Is Waiting” have also acquired new significance for an audience that is feeling nostalgic for simple routines they once took for granted.

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Heath Gill (front) and Christian Clark

Credit: Abigail Photos

Heath Gill (front) and Christian Clark

Credit: Abigail Photos

Combined ShapeCaption
Heath Gill (front) and Christian Clark

Credit: Abigail Photos

Credit: Abigail Photos

Although this is the first time Terminus is performing the piece in Atlanta since the world premiere, the company has taken it on tour in other cities, including Carrollton and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Lee expanded the ballet from 40 minutes into an evening-length work for the touring production, and the longer version is what Terminus will present at Stillwell Theater this weekend. Material new to Atlanta dance patrons includes an opening short duet for Terminus co-founder Heath Gill and Jackie Nash Gill, who joined the company in 2021.

Lee’s choreography in “Everything Is Waiting” leverages the company’s strong foundation in neoclassical ballet, featuring pointe work and dynamic adagio that engages the ensemble in constantly shifting creative pairings. It also promises to showcase their signature capacity for blending the silly and the sublime, alternating between humorous scenes that integrate mime and clowning — queuing up for some unknown purpose, or petty social contests in a crowded elevator — with extended intervals of pure dance.

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Laura La Russa and Heath Gill will perform in Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre's "Everything is Waiting" on May 21. (Photos by Abigail Photos)

Credit: Abigail Photos

Laura La Russa and Heath Gill will perform in Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre's "Everything is Waiting" on May 21. (Photos by Abigail Photos)

Credit: Abigail Photos

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Laura La Russa and Heath Gill will perform in Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre's "Everything is Waiting" on May 21. (Photos by Abigail Photos)

Credit: Abigail Photos

Credit: Abigail Photos

Complementing this juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extraordinary in movement, Lee has assembled a soundscape that integrates the noise of everyday life — city traffic, for example — and well-known instrumental works, such as Jun Miyake’s “Lilies of the Valley.”

As the company matures, it will be interesting to see how Terminus strikes the balance between drawing from and building the repertory, either by creating and commissioning new ballets or, as with “Roam” this season, significantly expanding and revising material they have performed previously. Lee said that setting the company’s course continues to involve very collaborative, round-table decision-making that seeks to reach out and cultivate new talent and audiences, while creating an environment where the company’s artists can evolve and grow.

In their recently announced fall season program, Terminus has clearly chosen to channel energy and resources into existing work created by in-house choreographers, at least in the short term. As a still relatively new company, especially given the upheaval of the past few years, Terminus is fortunate to have such a solid foundation on which they can continue to build.

DANCE PREVIEW

Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre: “Everything Is Waiting”

8 p.m. May 21. $15-$35. Stillwell Theater at Kennesaw State University, 471 Bartow Ave. NW, Kennesaw. terminusmbt.com.

Robin Wharton studied dance at the School of American Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. As an undergraduate at Tulane University in New Orleans, she was a member of the Newcomb Dance Company. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tulane, Robin holds a law degree and a Ph.D. in English, both from the University of Georgia.


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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL

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