Pinocchio takes the stage at the Georgia Ballet
by Sally Litchfield
MDJ Features Editor
sallylit@bellsouth.net
October 12, 2010 12:00 AM | 1635 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Amanda Farris of Marietta, left, and Whitney Edwards of Atlanta rehearse the Georgia Ballet company’s upcoming production of ‘Pinocchio.’ The 51st season will begin with the special production choreographed by Janusz Mazon.<br>Staff/Mike Jacoby
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The Georgia Ballet will open its 51st season with a production of "Pinocchio," created specifically for the company by Poland native Janusz Mazon, at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta.

"Pinocchio" will be performed along with "American Dreamer," another work by Mazon to the music of Civic War-era songwriter Stephen Foster. "Valse Fantaisie," a ballet by famed choreographer George Balanchine, founder of the New York City Ballet, is also on the playbill.

A second show is scheduled at 2 p.m. Oct. 24. Ticket prices start at $15. Season subscriptions and group ticket discounts are available. To order, call (770) 528-0881 or visit www.georgiaballet.org.

Mazon, Georgia Ballet's resident choreographer and ballet master, said most interpretations of the story of Pinocchio focus on the wooden character's nose, which grows whenever he tells a lie. However, Mazon said he aimed for something different in his choreography.

"I thought, maybe the nose is not the most important thing," he said. "But, there are some possible human emotions that are guiding this character or the lack of those emotions is creating some anguish with this character."

Thirteen of the company's professional dancers, along with 40 Georgia Ballet School students, will perform in the production. Rehearsals began in early September and have continued for 20 hours each week.

During a break from practice on Thursday afternoon, professional dancer Amanda Farris, who stars as Pinocchio in the ballet, said she was excited to be performing in her first lead role.

"It's just a really fun opportunity to do some very unique and exciting choreography," said the 24-year-old Marietta resident. "All the acting is really fun too."

The ballet company chose to perform "Pinocchio" because it's a story that appeals to children and adults, said Gina Hyatt-Mazon, artistic director.

"I find that Janusz's strength as a choreographer is to bring out the psychological aspect of characters that perhaps the adults will be interested in, while we're telling a children's story," she said.

Following "Pinocchio," the Georgia Ballet is scheduled to continue its season with a production of the perennial holiday favorite "The Nutcracker" Dec. 3-5 at the Cobb Civic Center. The season finishes with a showcase of choreography by several talented choreographers called "Spectrum: An Evening of New Works." The performance will be Feb. 5 at the Murray Arts Center on the campus of Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw. The evening will include live music, an art exhibit, a reception and a silent auction.

Throughout the season, the company will continue its educational and outreach programs through a field trip program for metro Atlanta students, lecture demonstrations, and Momentum, a program that teaches basic dance to underprivileged youth.

On Thursday night, Sprint awarded $25,000 to the Georgia Ballet for its educational outreach work.

As a fundraiser for the Cobb Schools Foundation and Marietta Schools Foundation, the company will team professionals dancers up with Dr. Emily Lembeck, Marietta City Schools superintendent; Rob Garcia, Cobb Chamber of Commerce chairman; Sandy Miller, Cobb Executive Women chairwoman; and a surprise guest for a special performance at its Dec. 4 show.

Given the economic climate, Michele Ziemann-DeVos, company executive director and school director, said the support the Georgia Ballet has received from the community for more than 50 years is a testament to the quality of its work.

"It's rare for an arts organization to be around that long," said Ziemann-DeVos. "There are very few that have been around for half a century. The Georgia Ballet is not only here and going into the 51st year, but is also thriving and growing."
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