Photographs by Thom Baker. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet
In 2006 choreographer Lauri Stallings unveiled Shoo Pah Minor, her first commission for the Atlanta Ballet. After the performance, John McFall, the Ballet’s artistic director, followed Stallings to the bathroom to ask if she’d consider a three-year residency. She accepted, tackling F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and co- creating Big with Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Then, in 2009, she formed the collaborative gloATL and began staging dance in MARTA stations and shopping malls.
Stallings and gloATL are “absolutely inspiring artists of all kinds, including dancers and dance organizations, to just do it,” says Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund director Lisa Cremin. Stallings, who can come across as a charming mixture of ambition and naivete, says Atlanta’s on a global dance path. “There’s Tel Aviv. There’s Chicago. There’s Montreal. There’s Berlin. I think Atlanta can be one of those dance cities.” This month, both upstart gloATL and grande dame Atlanta Ballet premiere new works.
For the debut production at its new base at the Goat Farm, gloATL enlisted visual artist Gyun Hur to design her first stage set and Atlanta Opera singers to perform Arvo Pärt’s Stabat Mater, accompanied by Georgia Tech’s Sonic Generator musicians. “It’s a 100-year-old space that seems as if it is only held together by its own will,” Stallings says of the venue. She’s using the concept of the hippodrome—an ancient horse- and chariot-racing track—to explore the “interior space of the human body and the human condition.” Befitting the equine-pageantry motif, Hur will drape two sides of the elliptical space with deep banks of live flowers. March 21–25, gloatl.org
New Choreographic Voices
The Atlanta Ballet continues to program new work by some of the world’s leading modern choreographers. Last spring it was James Kudelka’s moving Johnny Cash tribute The Man in Black and Atlantan Juel D. Lane’s Moments of Dis. This year there’s I Am, a world premiere by Austin, Texas, choreographer Gina Patterson; Israeli dance giant Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, which plucks audience members onstage to dance the cha-cha; and Rush, by the English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Patterson, who created Quietly Walking for the Ballet in 2011, is effusive in her praise of the company: “The dancers are a dream to work with in that they are ready and willing to discover along with you.” March 22–24, atlantaballet.com
This article originally appeared in our March 2013 issue.