Making the Cut: Five New Dancers Poised for Atlanta Ballet 11-12 season

ATLANTA – Atlanta Ballet adds five new dancers – three professional and two apprentice - to its roster for a landmark 2011-12 season, marked by world-renowned choreographers, intriguing collaborations and avant-garde performances.

The company welcomes back 18 dancers from last season, including veterans Christine Winkler and John Welker for a 17th season and Tara Lee who’ll be celebrating her 16th season. Dancer Jackie Nash will also join the professional ranks after being promoted from apprentice.

New to the company are Harunaga Yamaka, Brandon Nguyen, and Claire Stallman.

In addition to the 21 company dancers, four apprentices will perform this season, including newcomers Lisa Barrieau, Pablo Sanchez and former Centre for Dance Education student Nayomi Van Brunt who was recently promoted from fellowship status.

Since taking over in 1994, artistic director John McFall has consistently recruited a diverse group of dancers in style, technique and physicality. Beyond cultivating talent from within the school (Atlanta Ballet currently has 12 former students in the company), his scouting efforts have yielded national and international recruits. This year more than eight countries will be represented including Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Uruguay, the Philippines, Canada, China, and Taiwan.

The varied corps also matches the company’s eclectic repertoire of traditional pieces as well as more modern and contemporary works. For example, the October season opener pairs James Kudelka’s neo-classical The Four Seasons with the ultra-modern, “tech ballet” EDEN/EDEN by choreographer Wayne McGregor.

“This is a paramount season for Atlanta Ballet and our dancers. We are introducing distinguished choreographers from around the world into our rep that we haven’t had the privilege to work with before,” said McFall. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn from them, but also an opportunity for them to see how special our company is. We have an ensemble of individuals that are each uniquely talented, but all share a passion and commitment to discovery, collaboration and creativity. Atlanta and Atlanta Ballet are lucky to have them.”

To learn more about Atlanta Ballet and the company, please visit or visit the official Atlanta Ballet blog at For media inquiries, contact: Sigele Winbush – 404.862.2081,

Atlanta Ballet Promotions

  • Jackie Nash, native of Connecticut, started her pre-professional ballet training at the Connecticut Dance School under the direction of Alan Woodard. She then spent two years in the dance and academic residency program at The Rock School for Dance Education and graduated in 2009. During her summer studies she attended the Chautauqua Institute, Nutmeg Conservatory, Miami City Ballet and the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education.  She has enjoyed dancing roles such as Marya in Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker and performing works by James Kudelka, Mark Godden, Lila York and Matt Kent of Pilobolus Dance Theater.
  • A California native, Nayomi Van Brunt began her training at the age of 3. When she moved to Georgia with her family she trained with Atlanta Festival Ballet under Nicolas Pacana and Gregory Aaron as well as Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education. She spent two years with the Centre for Dance Education before becoming a fellowship dancer. Nayomi spent her summers with Atlanta Ballet, Houston Ballet, and North Carolina Dance Theatre. During her two years as a fellowship student with the Atlanta Ballet, Nayomi performed roles such as Marya in Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker, Victor Quijada’s Impending Savor Assement, Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena, Bennyroyce Royon’s Flux, John McFall’s The Sleeping Beauty, and Amy Seiwert’s Home in 7.

Atlanta Ballet New Company Members


  • Claire Stallman, a native of Saratoga, California, trained with the San Francisco Ballet School and joined Atlanta Ballet after dancing professionally with Boston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
  • Harry Yamakawa, originally from Japan, received formal training with Nowa Ballet in Kanagawa, Japan, as well as with John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany. Yamakawa brings professional experience from the National Company of Portugal (CNB), Colorado Ballet, and Nashville Ballet.
  • Brandon Nguyen, a native of Texas, found his love for dance at the Margo Dean School of Ballet in Fort Worth and later moved on to Texas Ballet Theatre. He furthered his training at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy performing solo and principal roles with Houston Ballet II. He received his first job with Orlando Ballet and while in Orlando he also became an artist with Cirque du Soleil.
  • Lisa Barrieau, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, started dancing at the age of four and continued training in Connecticut with New Haven Ballet School and Joyce DiLauro. Her additional studies include intensives with Boston Ballet School, American Academy of Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet School. Before joining Atlanta Ballet, Barrieau danced with Milwaukee Ballet. Barrieau’s career has offered her the chance to dance works by Alvin Ailey, Kee-Juan Han, Jose Limón, Trey McIntyre, Adam Miller, Pilobolus, and Twyla Tharp.
  • Pablo Sanchez was born in Puebla, Mexico. After moving to the U.S. he began training with Amy Rose in Libertyville, Illinois, and studied additionally at the Boston Ballet School. Last season, Sanchez danced with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago as a trainee. There, he toured and performed in Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino's The Nutcracker and Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow.