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Classical Ballet Dances on at the Georgia Ballet

By S. Mathur

The Georgia Ballet is a classical ballet school as well as a professional performing company, and has been serving the Marietta community for 55 years. Innovative outreach programs connect the community to the great dance tradition.

For Development Director Susan Zealy, the company's recent presentation of Coppelia represents some of the best of what the Georgia Ballet does. Coppelia tells the tale of a village boy who falls in love with a mechanical doll created by a scientist, before discovering that his true love is the girl next door. "Coppelia is a wonderful story ballet and very family friendly," she explains. "Our Artistic Director, Daet Rodriguez, was able to bring in two fabulous guest artists. Arionel Vargas and Marize Fumero who are renowned international dancers and were both previously with the English National Ballet."

Coppelia, 2015

The Georgia Ballet then used ETA Hoffman's classic tale to tie in a school trip to the ballet with an elementary school STEM lesson on robotics. The Georgia Ballet created an enrichment resource to go with the school trip, containing a K-3 STEM lesson on robotics; information about the ballet, composer, and choreographer; and post-performance activities.

The field trip and study guide are part of The Georgia Ballet's Art in Education Field Trip Program. Each year this program brings more than 10,000 children from metro Atlanta schools children to special matinee performances. The field trips and study guides help to promote creativity, collaborative work and critical thinking among students. The Georgia Ballet's community outreach includes the Momentum program, providing free dance courses in Title 1 schools in the Metro-Atlanta area and Danceability, offering free classes to children with special needs.

Company dancers Kelsey Stanhope and Josiah Savage

The school has around 185 students enrolled, ranging in age from two-and-a-half years to adults. Some students graduate to pursue professional careers, says Zealy "Yes, we have had students that pursued professional careers. To name some of them: Lauren Parrot trained at The Georgia Ballet and went onto a career with San Francisco Ballet. Emilie Mazon is currently performing Principal roles at the Hamburg Ballet in Germany. Josiah Savage and Kelsey Stanhope both trained at GAB and are now back with the GAB company."

The Georgia Ballet performs in a variety of venues, including the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre at the Cobb Civic Center and the Marietta Performing Arts Center. Coppelia was danced in a new venue: the Roswell Cultural Arts Center in Roswell, GA. Zealy says "This gave us the opportunity to build our audience and make many new friends. As part of our vision is to bring the art of classical ballet to many areas of Georgia, we appreciated the opportunity to expand into a new community."

The Nutcracker, 2015

The Nutcracker, of course, remains a holiday favorite. Zealy adds, "For our Nutcracker this year, the City of Marietta awarded us a grant to bring in two internationally renowned guest artists to perform in the Saturday and Sunday public performances. The Marietta community looks forward to attending our Nutcracker production each year, many as an annual family tradition. In fact, we currently perform 17 shows of The Georgia Ballet's The Nutcracker, 5 public shows and 12 school field-trip shows."

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