Throwback Thursday: “Ballet is Ticket to the Big Time” 2014 Edition

He may be thought of as an Atlanta native after 20 seasons as artistic director of Atlanta Ballet, however there is much more to the story than that. Back in 1993, McFall was artistic director of BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, a ways away from Atlanta, and even farther from home. McFall returned to his home state of Kansas that year to give a lecture at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and share his glory with his former Kansas City ballet teacher, Tatiania Doukoudovska. The Kansas City Star eagerly covered the occasion.

John McFall rehearses Peter Pan with Atlanta Ballet dancers (2007).
Photo by Kim Kenney.

The article captured all the essence of his humble beginnings with dance in Kansas, for example seeing a rehearsal of “Swan Lake” at twelve and falling in love with the “physicality of dance, the vitality” and the fact that “you could put a lot of yourself into it.” And that he surely did! At 13 he spent the summer in New York training with Tatiana Doukoudovska’s brother Vincent, and went off to the San Francisco Ballet School on scholarship after graduating from high school. In a year’s time, he was invited to join the San Francisco Ballet and was a principal dancer from 1969 to 1983. Within this span of time, he was dancing in Europe and being commissioned to choreograph for companies from Atlanta to Harlem to Canada. After retiring from dancing, he followed his passion and became a free-lance choreographer. BalletMet soon invited him to become its artistic director in 1985. McFall was a man on a mission, bringing fresh faces into BalletMet, expanding the company’s repertory and increasing the annual budget tremendously. This was the beginning of the acclaimed art direction we know today at Atlanta Ballet.

Richard McLeod and Anastasia Glimidakis of BalletMet in 1993.
Photo from The Kansas City Star.

Want to know more about our artistic director and what it truly takes to become a success in the dance world? Click here to read the original article from The Kansas City Star, "Ballet Is Ticket to the Big Time" (Thursday, March 11, 1993).

Article contributed by Stephanie Addo.

John McFall portrait. Photo by Charlie McCullers.