Atlanta Ballet was founded over eight decades ago by dance visionary Dorothy Moses Alexander (1904-1986). Miss Dorothy had a dream of bringing quality ballet to the Atlanta community. The result was the Dorothy Alexander Dance Concert Group - the first step in the regional ballet movement that swept the nation. In 1946, the Company, now named Atlanta Civic Ballet, became the first dance company in the nation to help fund a symphony. The season’s annual proceeds were donated to the Atlanta Youth Symphony, which would later become Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
In 1958, Miss Dorothy invited Robert Barnett, a soloist with the acclaimed New York City Ballet and a protégé of George Balanchine, to join the Company as a principal dancer. In 1962, a year after her retirement, Barnett was named artistic director and introduced many Balanchine masterworks into the repertoire, including The Nutcracker. For more than 30 years, Mr. Barnett expanded Miss Dorothy’s dream of excellence.
John McFall became Atlanta Ballet’s third artistic director in 1994. Mr. McFall’s imagination and innovative vision brought contemporary modern dance premieres, numerous new full-length ballets, and several world premiere productions to Atlanta. His pioneering spirit inspired collaborations with Big Boi of OutKast, Indigo Girls, The Red Clay Ramblers, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Choir, and the Michael O’Neal Singers. Mr. McFall created an ensemble company of extraordinary professional dancers from every corner of the world, including Uruguay, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Brazil, Columbia, Australia, Canada, and the United States. He provided the world’s most innovative choreographers, including Christopher Hampson, Twyla Tharp, Helen Pickett, and Violette Verdy, with an artistic home while exposing Georgia audiences to exciting new works.
Upon John McFall’s retirement in 2016, Gennadi Nedvigin was named Atlanta Ballet’s fourth artistic director in the Company’s then 87-year history. Mr. Nedvigin joined Atlanta Ballet after an illustrious dance career that included his training at the famed Bolshoi Ballet Academy and nineteen seasons as a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet. As artistic director, he presents a varied repertory that reintroduces some of the finest classical and neoclassical works in existence, while also bringing in new works from the most sensational and sought-after choreographers in the world. He uses his vast experience to nurture the Company, helping the dancers achieve the highest level of artistry, and elevate the national and international profile of Atlanta Ballet.
Atlanta Ballet is the oldest ballet company in America, the largest self-supported arts organization in Georgia, and the official Ballet of Georgia. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans the history of ballet, highlighted by the most beloved classics and the most inventive originals. Although a renowned leader in the promotion and education of dance, Atlanta Ballet’s roots have been firmly grounded in the community and playing a vital role in the city’s cultural growth and revitalization.
The Company has also served as an ambassador for Atlanta nationally and internationally, performing around the globe - from the stages of Taipei in Taiwan to the Presidential Palace and the Sejong Cultural Arts Center in Seoul, Korea. In 1996, the Company performed during the Olympic Arts Festival/Cultural Olympiad, and, in 1999, Atlanta Ballet debuted in London, performing John McFall’s enchanting Peter Pan as the centerpiece of Royal Festival Hall’s millennium celebration. In 2013, Atlanta Ballet embarked on a two-week tour to China, where it was one of only two American dance companies represented at the National Ballet of China’s inaugural “International Ballet Season.”
In 1996, John McFall established the Centre for Dance Education (CDE) and identified Sharon Story as dean. The CDE is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity through different courses. It also offers classes for children as young as two, an acclaimed pre-professional division called the Academy, and a spectrum of dance classes ranging from ballet to tap. Students enrolled in the CDE’s programs enjoy opportunities to perform with the professional Company, and students receive first priority in casting for roles in The Nutcracker, as well as other productions. The Centre for Dance Education also prides itself on its renowned community programs. School programs have increased the spirit and grades of thousands of metro Atlanta schoolchildren. The CDE has been a tireless leader of dance education.
Through endeavors such as these, Atlanta Ballet continues Miss Dorothy’s vision. Atlanta Ballet's commitment to dance education and performance has inspired audiences everywhere through the empowering joy of dance.