RELEVÉ. Art and Recovery Behind the Curtain
A Documentary Series on the Story of Art & Healing
The documentary series RELEVÉ, follows the dancers, leadership and staff of Atlanta Ballet as they balance the demands and challenges of the industry and the passion to introduce a thriving and dynamic region to classic works and world premieres by acclaimed choreographers against the economic trials following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ballet as an artform has been profoundly misunderstood and misrepresented on screen. In the film and television worlds of TINY PRETTY THINGS, THE BLACK SWAN, THE TURNING POINT, THE COMPANY or CENTER STAGE, the drama and tension are manufactured through dysfunctional dancer/director relationships, incestuous relationships among dancers juxtaposed to brutal competition for the starring roles, the physical torture young dancers put their bodies through to perform the super-human feats of artistry that enthrall audiences and, inevitably a plot line including emotional or mental issues.
All make for compelling fictional storytelling... but the true and more meaningful story is one of physical challenge (and pain) of superhuman feats balanced by an audience cheering and moved to its feet in applause.
In the best of times, ballet is a difficult field... To become a professional dancer, most educators agree that it can take a decade of intense training, dedication, sacrifice and a heap of support from family and mentors to prepare for a professional career. More than that, the training can be expensive and the rewards when a young ballet dancer steps onto the stage for the first time as a professional are not generally fame and fortune, but a cheering audience.
Hundreds of thousands of young girls and boys train in ballet in their youth, yet only an elite few thousand achieve professional careers as members of professional ballet companies.
Their challenges are parallel to those of the ballet companies that employ them. In the United States there are 726 ballet companies - only thirty of which have budgets in excess of $5M and employ more than 100 people. The largest of these, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre (ABT), San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet operate with significant endowments in large cities and are often destinations for ballet lovers.
There is a tier of ballet companies in America that represent the heart of the field, in cities across the country that employ dancers, present seasons of classical, neo-classical and contemporary work and have ballet schools and professional training programs. These organizations are just the heart of the field, and just as the dancers have challenging careers with little monetary reward, the ballet companies across America struggle with financial resources, introducing new works to audiences across the country and inspiring young people to keep this artform alive and evolving.
Atlanta Ballet has the distinction of being America's longest running professional Ballet Company, having been founded in 1929 by Dorothy Alexander - decades before the founding of New York City Ballet. Alexander was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of the leading figures of creating the regional ballet movement in America and the organization she founded is among the most venerated of companies across America.
Today Atlanta Ballet is led by Artistic Director, Gennadi Nedvigin - a celebrated former principal and soloist dancer with San Francisco Ballet for 19 years, who danced in Paris and trained and danced at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.
Its Company of 40 dancers hail from across the globe and the local community, and its educational arm, the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, is the seventh largest ballet training program in America.
Together, Atlanta Ballet and the Centre have placed a priority on seeking to diversity the field of Ballet with a field leading initiative, Decade 2 Dance, that identifies young Black and brown dancers of promise and provides scholarship, support and encouragement to pursue these elite careers.