Atlanta Ballet Announces U.S. Premiere of Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon

Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin today announced that Atlanta Ballet is co-producing with Hong Kong Ballet and Queensland Ballet Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon and will present the North American premiere in February 2024.

Acclaimed Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s original full-length narrative ballet Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon will delve into the complex life of one of the 20th century’s most intriguing iconoclasts. The woman who launched a global fashion empire, Coco Chanel redefined the world of fashion and more than a century later her legacy continues. That legacy is defined in part by Chanel’s brilliant designs, shrewd business acumen, and glamorous lifestyle; it is also defined by immorality and opportunism on her rise to the top.

Ochoa’s original full-length narrative ballet chronicles Chanel’s almost mythical rags-to-riches and often controversial story. Through Ochoa’s wide range of dance training and acclaim for depicting modern narrative scenes in abstract and concise movements, she portrays Chanel’s life and polarizing reputation through ballet.

“I am interested in telling stories about strong historical women,” said Ochoa. “Behind the surface of a strong woman, there is always a hidden emotional story full of hardships and flaws.”

Ochoa is a prolific and sought-after choreographer who has created more than 100 works for more than 70 companies around the world. One of the few female choreographers making narrative ballet, she has created nine such ballets, most recently Frida for Dutch National Ballet in 2020 and Doña Perón in 2022 for Ballet Hispánico.

Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon brings together a widely respected and award-winning creative team. Artistic collaboration was provided by Nancy Meckler, the original score is by Peter Salem, with set and costume designs by Jérôme Kaplan. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra will perform Salem’s music live at the North American premiere.

“Annabelle is a brilliant choreographer and thoughtful storyteller, and we are honored to premiere her work in the U.S. for Atlanta audiences” said Nedvigin. “The ballet portrays a historical figure with a past that was both inspiring and problematic, so we want to go beyond the stage with meaningful partnerships and educational resources to help contextualize Chanel’s story.”

Atlanta Ballet, in conjunction with this production, is developing programming with SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film and The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. Programming from SCAD will focus on the House of Chanel's immense influence on the fashion industry, while The Breman will explore the harmful impact of Coco Chanel’s antisemitism and collaboration with the Nazis. Additional resources will provide education on recognizing and combatting antisemitism today.

Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon is a co-production of Hong Kong Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Queensland Ballet. Hong Kong Ballet will premiere the ballet in March 2023, followed by Atlanta Ballet in February 2024 and then Queensland Ballet in the Fall of 2024.

Atlanta Ballet’s North American premiere of Coco Chanel: The Life of a Fashion Icon is made possible by a lead gift from The Carlos Family Foundation.

For more information about Atlanta Ballet and the supplemental programming and educational resources to support the ballet depicting Coco Chanel’s life, please click here. Tickets for this performance will go on sale in early summer 2023.

Hong Kong Ballet dancer Ye Feifei. Photo by SWKit. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet.