Atlanta Ballet Gennadi Nedvigin | Artistic Director

Atlanta Ballet Gennadi Nedvigin | Artistic Director

La Sylphide

La Sylphide

With the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra

Emily Carrico. Photo by Rachel Neville.

February 15-23, 2019 La Sylphide

  • Choreography by August Bournonville
  • Production & additional choreography by Johan Kobborg
  • Music by Herman Severin Løvenskiold
  • With the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra
  • Costume & scenic design by Desmond Heeley
  • Lighting design by Joseph R. Walls

One of the oldest surviving classical masterpieces and August Bournonville’s most lasting contributions to dance, La Sylphide is a magical story of forbidden love and heartbreak. Set in the mist shrouded Scottish Highlands, a land of mystery and enchantment, a young Scotsman falls under the spell of a sylph, a fairy-like spirit. He devotes himself to her, but their romance is doomed and a life together an impossible dream. A work of ethereal beauty, La Sylphide is an enrapturing tragic love story that will pull at the heartstrings and dazzle with its technical fireworks.

Runtime is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission. 

Performance Photos

  • Venue
    Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

    The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is the first major performing arts facility built in metro Atlanta in four decades.

    The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is located in northwest Atlanta near the junction of I-75 and I-285, at the intersection of Cobb Galleria Parkway and Akers Mill Road. Click here for parking, dining, hotel, and additional venue information.

    Emergency Phone Number
    The 24-hour public safety number for the Cobb Energy Centre is 770.916.2911. Please leave your seat location with your babysitter or answering service so that the house manager may find you in case of an emergency.

    Special Needs
    The venue is ADA compliant. Designated seats in various locations are available for guests with disabilities and those needing special assistance. The venue is equipped with wheelchair accessible courtesy phones, elevators, plaza ramps, wheelchair accessible ticket windows, and wheelchair accessible drinking fountains.  For more information, please call 770.916.2800.

  • Group Discounts

    Community and Corporate Group Tickets

    It only takes 10 people to benefit from Atlanta Ballet's Group Sales program.  With our fast, friendly, and convenient service, you can secure the best seats in the house in no time at all. Groups save up to 40% on regular prices!

    Click here for details and to submit a request to Group Sales Manager Myredith Gonzales.

  • Audience Reviews

    By Anonymous Feb 22nd, 2019

    The performance of La Sylphide on Sunday was absolutely incredible. My group of friends and I thought It was the very best ballet we have ever seen. I told the group, “This is what a ballet is supposed to be!!! Please give our compliments to all who had a part in planning and executing this historic FIRST for Atlanta. Not only were we proud of the production … but you made Atlanta PROUD.

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  • Seating Chart

    Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

  • Reviews

    Atlanta Ballet’s La Sylphide charms with buoyancy, expressiveness

    George Staib, ArtsATL, 2019.02.21

    With joy or sorrow, depending on the circumstance, an ebullient corps de ballet ebbed into and out of the space, their intricate footwork evoking Scottish Highland dancing. Often, they framed Emily Carrico, the lead sylph, highlighting her gentle precision and open heart. In her first solo, Carrico lit upon radiant arabesques and took to the air while beating her legs with a wispy exactness that Bournonville himself would commend. For Atlanta Ballet, these little triumphs were a meaningful breath of fresh air.

    Atlanta Ballet brings romantic shine with ‘La Sylphide’

    Allison Gupton, Dance Informa, 2019.02.15

    Atlanta Ballet’s La Sylphide encapsulated why I love to attend the ballet — a night full of stunning movement, breathtaking visuals, and an experience that takes you out of the present, and into your dreams.

    ‘La Sylphide’ seems far from antiquated

    Andrew Alexander, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2019.02.18

    Even those without much familiarity with the ballet can follow the centuries-old story. The fine production’s ultimate air of supernatural mystery and its allegorical tale of a choice between commitment and freedom manage to pack a powerful punch.

    La Sylphide premieres in Atlanta

    Jenifer Sarver, bachtrack, 2019.02.19

    Igarashi only grew lovelier as the ballet went on, and her solo and coda within the pas de deux gave a genuine feeling of being a sparkling, magical impulse, rather than choreography. A first-time viewer at Atlanta Ballet, I was very impressed with the production and the obvious commitment to it from all involved. I very much look forward to watching this company’s continued development, and was delighted to truly enjoy one of our great classics being performed so well.

    La Sylphide

    Robert Heller , Atlanta Arts Scene, 2019.02.16

    Let’s first jump to the bottom line. This presentation by our Atlanta Ballet is enchantingly wonderful. It is good performance, or better than, any ballet you may have seen in London, New York or Moscow. There are fewer than 5 more performances, so I would urge any reader to grab seats now.

    Atlanta Ballet summons the ethereal in timeless, romantic La Sylphide

    George Staib, ArtsATL, 2019.02.14

    Artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin’s choice of such a seminal work represents his ambition to deepen and forward Atlanta Ballet’s connection to classical forms. Because the choreography is theatrical, personable and demanding, dancers must become gracious and generous, confident and real.

  • Video

    August Bournonville's "La Sylphide" at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre | Atlanta Ballet

    Inside the Studio with La Sylphide | 2015 | The National Ballet of Canada

  • Production & Additional Choreography

    Johan Kobborg, Production & Additional Choreography

    Johan Kobborg has enjoyed a distinguished career as a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet and the Royal Ballet, and as a guest with most major companies around the world. More recently, he has distinguished himself as a choreographer with leading companies, including the Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Zurich Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Lithuanian National Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet.

    From December 2013 until April 2016, Johan was artistic director of the Romanian National Ballet. In June 2015, Mr. Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel’s production of Giselle entered the repertoire. In 2015, the company received a “Performance of the Year” nomination from Dance Europe Magazine. In December 2015, the Romanian company hosted a world ballet stars gala at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center in New York, in collaboration with Alina Cojocaru and dancers and musicians from Mariinsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet. The company was nominated as “Company of The Year” by both the England-based Dance Europe magazine and the German Tanz Magazine in 2015.

    The Royal Ballet commissioned Johan to create a new production of La Sylphide in 2005. The production was so successful that it was revived twice in London, including the opening night of the 2006 season. He also staged La Sylphide for the Bolshoi Ballet, which was telecast around the world in September 2012. The ballet entered the repertoire of the Bucharest National Opera Ballet Company in December 2013, and with the National Ballet of Canada in 2016. The Lithuanian Ballet, Zürich Ballet and Kobayashi Ballet in Japan, as well as in Bucharest, have also danced this version.

    The success of La Sylphide led the Royal Ballet to commission an original work from Johan, Les Lutins, in 2009. The company included the work on a tour to Havana, Cuba. The original cast danced the work at the Dortmund Ballet Festival and the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. Today, the piece is danced in galas and festivals around the world.

    In November 2012, Johan and Ethan Stiefel created a new production of Giselle for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. This version was filmed for theatrical release during the 2013-2014 season. The production toured throughout New Zealand and China, and was performed on a US tour in early 2014, and a UK tour in 2015.

    One of Johan’s more innovative media appearances occurred in September 2013. Kim Brandstrup created a piece for Johan and Alina Cojocaru, specifically for streaming on iTunes. It is reputed to be one of the first ballet choreographic works envisioned for Apple’s distribution. As soon as it appeared, it became number one on the iTunes classical downloads.

    In December 2017, Johan created a brand new production of Don Quixote for the Leonid Yacobson Ballet in St. Petersburg. The production was a huge success and achieved great critical acclaim from both the Russian and foreign press.

    Johan has worked intensely with Ralph Fiennes on his new Rudolph Nureyev movie, The White Crow, which was set for worldwide release in 2018.

    Johan was born in Copenhagen in 1972, and trained at the Funen Ballet Academy before acceptance into the Royal Danish Ballet School in 1988, at the age of 16. He joined the Royal Danish Ballet in 1989, was promoted to soloist in 1991, and became a principal in 1994. After eleven years of dancing nearly every important role in the Danish company's repertoire, Johan joined the Royal Ballet as a principal in September 1999. He left the Royal Ballet in June 2013, after a final performance of Mayerling, to pursue his choreography and freelance performance opportunities.

    In 1993, Johan won the gold medal at the Erik Bruhn Competition in Canada. The following year, he won the Grand Prix at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss., and the Grand Prix at the International Nureyev Ballet Competition in Hungary. In 1996, he was nominated for the Benois de la Danse prize for his role as James in La Sylphide. He has won the Dance Critics Circle award for best male dancer and has received many Danish ballet grants and awards.

    In 2006, he was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards in London: one for his Royal Ballet production of La Sylphide and another for his performance in Fleming Flindt’s The Lesson. In 2009, his cast for the Bolshoi Ballet production of La Sylphide was nominated for the Golden Masque Award in Moscow, as the best performance of the year. In 2013, Queen Margaret of Denmark personally awarded Johan the high honor of The Order of the Dannebrog. In 2014, his Bucharest production of La Sylphide received the "Performance of the Year" award in Romania.

  • Conductor

    Tara Simoncic, Conductor

    Tara Simoncic is excited to return as a guest conductor with Atlanta Ballet. Ms. Simoncic frequently works with symphony orchestras as well as opera and ballet companies in America and abroad. She is currently the music director of Louisville Ballet, the Flexible Orchestra in New York City and the Greenwich Symphony’s Young People’s Concerts, and she was the music director of Ballet West from 2015-2018. This season, Ms. Simoncic makes her debut at the San Francisco Ballet, with performances of The Nutcracker and Don Quixote, as well as the la Orquesta Sinfónica Provincial de Santa Fe. She will return this season as a guest conductor with the ballet at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and the New York City Ballet. Ms. Simoncic recently conducted performances of Don Giovanni in Trieste, Italy, and The Barber of Seville with the Slovenian National Opera Ballet Theatre. She holds a BM in Trumpet Performance from the New England Conservatory, an MM in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University and a Professional Studies Diploma in Conducting from Manhattan School of Music.

  • Designers

    Desmond Heeley, Costume & Scenic Designer

    Desmond Heeley began his career in the theater as an apprentice in the workshops of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His practical aptitude for costumes, properties and painting was noticed by Peter Brook, who commissioned Heeley to design the costumes for a production of The Lark by Anouilh in London. Later, as Peter Brook’s assistant at Stratford-upon-Avon, Heeley designed the costumes and properties for the now legendary production of Titus Andronicus with Sir Laurence Olivier.

    From this point on, his work was to be seen in the theater, the opera, and the ballet - at the onset, the Ballet Rambert, then with John Cranko and Kenneth MacMillan ballets at Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden, including Benjamin Britten’s only full-length ballet, Prince of the Pagodas. Continuing with Cranko, he designed for London’s West End, including a musical in conjunction with Lord Snowdon, employing advanced photographic techniques.

    His work at the Old Vic Theatre with artistic director Michael Benthall ranged from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde. On the operatic scene, he designed I Puritani for Joan Sutherland at Glyndbourne and La Traviata and Iolanthe for the Sadler’s Wells Opera. He designed for the Marquis de Cuevas Ballet in Paris, and for the Opera at La Scala in Milan.

    In London, he designed the original productions of several new plays by some of the leading British writers, Joe Orton’s Loot, Robert Bolt's Gentle Jack (starring Dame Edith Evans), Carving a Stone by Graham Greene (starring Sir Ralph Richardson) and In Praise of Love directed by John Dexter. A long association with artistic director Michael Langham began with a production of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon. A year later, he did another Hamlet at another Stratford — this time in Ontario, Canada, starring Christopher Plummer. He designed some eighteen productions in Ontario, finding time in between to do Swan Lake for the National Ballet of Canada with Erik Bruhn and later, for the same company, Giselle, as well as the opera Cosi Fan Tutte. When Langham left the Festival to be artistic director of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Heeley followed. Among the many productions he worked on there, notable successes were Oedipus, the King and Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.

    Sir Laurence Olivier invited him to join forces with Sean Kenny to design the opening production of the newly formed National Theatre at the Old Vic in London in 1967. Again, the play was Hamlet, and this time the star was Peter O’Toole.

    Later at Sir Laurence’s invitation, he designed the original production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He then re-created the production on Broadway and won two Tony Awards for the sets and costumes.

    Sir Rudolph Bing commissioned him to design Norma for Joan Sutherland at the Metropolitan Opera. Following this, he designed Pelleas and Melisande for the Met. In the 1970s, Mr. Heeley also designed a highly successful three-act version of The Merry Widow directed by Sir Robert Helpmann in Australia, which was presented on Broadway and then in London’s West End, starring Dame Margot Fonteyn. He also designed the sets and costumes for the Stuttgart Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty.

    For John Dexter, Mr. Heeley designed the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Don Pasquale starring Beverly Sills. He has designed Theme and Variations (1978) for American Ballet Theatre; Titus Andronicus at the Stratford Festival in Canada; Teible and Her Demon for the Guthrie Theatre; and on Broadway, the revival of Camelot starring Richard Burton.

    Mr. Heeley designed the New York City Opera’s productions of Brigadoon and South Pacific, the London Festival Ballet’s (now English National Ballet) production of Coppélia, the Vienna State Opera’s Maria Stuarda and The Merry Widow for the National Ballet of Canada.

    Over the past ten years, Houston Ballet has emerged as Mr. Heeley’s artistic home in America. The company has four works by Mr. Heeley in its repertoire: The Nutcracker (1987), Solitaire (1991), The Sleeping Beauty (1990) and Coppélia (1992). Additionally, in September 1995, Houston Ballet presented Mr. Heeley’s production of The Merry Widow from the National Ballet of Canada.

    Mr. Heeley has received numerous awards throughout his distinguished career. In 1994, he became the first person to receive the Theater Development Fund’s Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award. The Allan Jones Memorial Award followed in 1995, and in 1997, he was the recipient of the prestigious Institute for Theater Technology Award in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the performing arts.

    In 1997, Mr. Heeley celebrated fifty years of working in the theater. From June 3 - November 9, 1997, the Stratford Festival in Ontario mounted a massive retrospective exhibition featuring sets, designs, costumes and properties that chronicled Mr. Heeley’s half century of achievement. Recent projects Mr. Heeley has designed at the Stratford Festival include Camelot in 1997, Amadeus and Measure For Measure.

    Biography courtesy of American Ballet Theatre (

    Joseph R. Walls, Lighting Designer

    Joseph R. Walls has designed several pieces for Atlanta Ballet, including Ricardo Amarante’s The Premiere, Gemma Bond’s Denouement, Tara Lee’s blink and Andrea Miller’s Push. He has also designed for STEPS Panama, Staibdance, RAIIN Dance Theater, Inland Pacific Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, and The Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center. This past summer, Walls created the lighting design for Sundance Mountain Resort’s Summer Theatre. He has also been nominated for the prestigious Premios Escena award for best lighting design in Panama City, Panama. In January 2019, Walls designed the lighting for the World Youth Day 2019 with Pope Francis in Panama.

  • Casting

    Friday, February 15 at 8pm & Saturday, February 23 at 8pm

    The Sylph: Emily Carrico
    James: Moisés Martín 
    Effie: Nadia Mara
    Gurn: Anderson Souza
    Madge: Ashley Wegmann

    Saturday, February 16 at 2pm & Sunday, February 17 at 2pm

    The Sylph: Airi Igarashi
    James: Sergio Masero-Olarte
    Effie: Erica Alvarado
    Gurn: Bret Coppa
    Madge: Francesca Loi

    Saturday, February 16 at 8pm & Friday, February 22 at 8pm

    The Sylph: Jessica Assef
    James: Nikolas Gaifullin
    Effie: Jackie Nash
    Gurn: Keaton Leier
    Madge: Taylor Ciampi

    *Casting is subject to change.

  • Synopsis

    By Johan Kobborg

    ACT I

    A Scottish manor-house

    It is the morning of James’s marriage to Effie, and he is asleep in his armchair. A winged figure, a sylphide, is kneeling by his side. She kisses him on his forehead, and he wakes up confused. Entranced by the vision of the Sylph, he attempts to capture her, but she escapes him. As she reaches the fireplace, she vanishes up the chimney. Troubled, he wakes his companions, but none of them saw the Sylph. Gurn, James’s rival, arrives and learns that James is infatuated with someone other than Effie.

    The preparations for the wedding are in full swing. James hardly notices Effie; instead she is wooed by Gurn, whom she ignores. James joins in the preparations but gradually realized that, while Effie dreams more and more of the wedding, his own dreams go far beyond the walls of the manor-house.

    An old woman, Madge, has slipped unnoticed into the hall to warm herself by the fire. James, sensing that she is a sinister presence, takes an immediate dislike to her and cannot bear to see her sitting where he last saw the Sylph. He orders her to leave, but Effie calms him and persuades him to let Madge tell the fortunes of some of the guests. Madge prophesies that Effie will marry Gurn. James, furious at this, threatens Madge, who curses him. Effie runs off to dress for the wedding, leaving James alone and in turmoil.

    The Sylph once again shows herself to James, declares her love for him and tells him that they belong together. Gurn enters and, believing that he may have caught James talking to another woman, attempts to reveal the situation to Effie but fails.

    As the wedding festivities begin, the Sylph reappears. Unable to resist her enticements, James follows her into the forest. Effie is left broken-hearted. 

    ACT II

    A glade in the forest

    Deep in the forest, shrouded in mist, Madge is planning her revenge. She makes a veil, irresistible to all, in a magic cauldron. As the fog lifts, James enters with the Sylph, who shows him her realm. She brings him berries and water but evades his embrace. To lift his spirits, she calls on her sisters and the forest fills with sylphs, who dance for James. Try as he might, he is unable to catch the Sylph in his arms.

    Effie and James’s companions reach the glade looking for him. Gurn finds James’s hat, but Madge convinces him to say nothing. He proposes to Effie, and, encouraged by Madge, she accepts. Everyone leaves to prepare for the wedding of Effie and Gurn.

    Meanwhile, James is desperately looking for the Sylph, and Madge convinces him that the veil she has made will enable him to catch her. The Sylph appears and, seeing the veil, is totally captivated by it. She allows James to place it around her shoulders, and as he does so, he kisses her. His embrace is fatal, and the Sylph’s wings fall to the ground. In despair, James sees what should have been his own wedding party in the distance. As Madge forces him to see what he has lost, he realizes that in trying to possess the unobtainable, he has lost everything.

  • Program Notes

    La Sylphide, premiered twice in the 1830s. In 1832, Filippo Taglioni choreographed the original version. Danish ballet master August Bournonville choreographed a second version in 1836, which premiered at the Royal Danish Theatre. Bournonville’s version of La Sylphide is one of the oldest ballets performed today, scored by Herman Severin Løvenskjold with Bournonville and Lucile Grahn dancing the principal roles.

    The Royal Danish Ballet has danced Bournonville’s La Sylphide since its inception. Johan Kobborg, choreographer and former principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet, presents his production and additional choreography of one of Bournonville’s most legendary works to Atlanta Ballet audiences. 

    Notes contributed by Johan Kobborg 

    Johan Kobborg on the Bournonville method:

    One of the obvious stylistic differences that separates Bournonville from most of today’s classical choreographers is the use of intricate, speedy and precise footwork. Bournonville saw dance as an expression of joy, and therefore the dancing is often seen through quick variations, and solos for both female and male performers. For storytelling and drama, Bournonville would use mime. It is rare that one comes across adagio dancing in his ballets, and if so, it is still dancing to show pleasure and harmony, inside and out. The fast and delicate steps were a feat in itself, and the upper body was often kept calm as to not distract the spectators’ eye from the feet. The arms and upper body were used solely to compliment rather than enhance.

    I think both dancers and audiences of today are used to focusing much less on feet, as the spaces, stages and distances we now have to cover, generally demand longer larger lines, and movement that travels and covers more space horizontally than vertically.

    Johan Kobborg on La Sylphide:

    August Bournonville's La Sylphide is the jewel of Danish ballet. It’s the one ballet that everyone dreams of performing in Denmark.

    I was fortunate that when I first started creating this production in 2005, some original music had been found recently. The libretto described scenes in the ballet that I was not used to seeing or dancing, but suddenly I had the music that was used in those scenes. The scores even had Bournonville’s own scribblings on them, so getting the right action to the right notes was suddenly a possibility.

    I love the fact that you can grow and develop as an artist over time and change the way you think of and perform the roles within this ballet. I still make small changes to characters and some of my own choreographic additions, as it is important that the piece works for the specific company and its individual dancers. They are the ones that need to bring the piece to life and make sense of the story and its characters.

    The ballet and the characters can be interpreted in so many different ways, and the audience might create their own story and version of what they are seeing. Some will see a female shaped Sylph. Others might see the Sylph as a representation of something bigger or better for James. Perhaps the Sylph is an urge for something different, or perhaps everything plays out in James’ mind. The possibilities are endless.

    Most people don't believe in fairies, winged creatures and witches any longer, so making the ballet work today, not as a piece of history that belongs in a museum, but as relevant theatre in 2019 is a challenge for both the stager and the performers. Making sense of it all is perhaps what I enjoy most about working with this ballet.

    I think that for any piece of art to survive for so long, it needs to have a core story that on some level is still relevant. I think to some degree we can all relate to the story of James. Not to run off on our wedding day, but the desire for happiness, the constant questioning we as humans do. The what if? Am I making the right choice? We all dream, we all have goals and desires, and I think we all question the choices we make in life. As James learns, once you reach a dream it can no longer exist.

    With Bournonville it’s not about acting, but reacting. Even when you think you might have a character all worked out, you might suddenly find yourself on stage and in front of another dancer who's way of doing his or her role makes you question everything you thought you knew about your own character. That’s when you have to rethink and rework your own interpretation. That’s when magic happens. That’s when ballet is alive and well, and able to move and enthrall people — today and for decades to come.

    August Bournonville choreographed premiere: November 28, 1836, at the Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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