Atlanta Ballet to debut daring performances
by Marcus E. Howard
May 18, 2012 12:00 AM | 2817 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peng-Yu Chen, 30, has been with Atlanta Ballet five seasons.<br>Special
Peng-Yu Chen, 30, has been with Atlanta Ballet five seasons.
ATLANTA — A cast of emerging choreographers in the Atlanta Ballet’s now annual season closer will present a mixed repertory program beginning tonight at the Alliance Stage of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.

New Choreographic Voices will feature two world premieres and an Atlanta Ballet premiere through Sunday. This year’s production marks the second season the company will present the edgy program of premieres.

Tickets start at $20 and are on sale now. To purchase tickets, call (404) 892-3303 or visit

The three standout choreographers, including company dancer Tara Lee, combine classical dance with daring new movement, music and diversity.

Lee has been commissioned three times by company Artistic Director John McFall to create new works for the Atlanta Ballet. Tonight begins her world premiere of “Pavo,” a mix of classical and contemporary movement styles inspired by the beauty and symbolism of the peacock.

Choreographer Helen Pickett is back with a world premiere titled, “Prayer of Touch,” set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn. The Atlanta Ballet will close its 2011-12 season with the premiere of “Rush,” by famed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, regarded as one of today’s most innovative contemporary ballet choreographers.

New Choreographic Voices will also feature live music by DJ Jen Mitchell and a saxophonist, percussionist and cellist from the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.

Following the conclusion of the season, the company’s dancers will have a six-month hiatus before their next on stage production. Two dancers recently were married and will be moving into a house in Cobb County this summer. Others are teaching, traveling and dancing with other companies.

Peng-Yu Chen of Smyrna is spending part of her summer choreographing works for the Atlanta Ballet’s summer modern dance series called “Wabi Sabi,” a collection of new choreographic works to be performed by many company dancers in July at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Chen, who’ll also perform this weekend in New Choreographic Voices, said her duet piece was inspired by her life’s experiences and world around her. While she has done some choreography before, it remains a new experience, she said.

“It’s definitely out of the comfort zone,” said Chen.

“Sometimes you have a point of view that you try to let come out, but when you have a live artist there, they can give you more inspiration and see things differently. I’m very excited about that.”

A native of Taiwan, Chen has been with the Atlanta Ballet for five seasons. Prior to coming to Atlanta, she performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York and American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York at Purchase.

At age 30, Chen said she has begun thinking about retirement, which could lead to more choreography and teaching in the future. She plans to return home to Taiwan this summer to spend time with her family and teach.

“I want to stay in this field and be involved in dance and art,” she said. “I love teaching and all of that, so I’ll just try to go in that direction. In the end, it’ll probably all merge together.”

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