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Atlanta Ballet Walks the Line to The Man in Black

2012 March 23

Roll over Beethoven. Atlanta Ballet is kicking up its heels to tunes by Johnny Cash, Jean Sibelius and  Quentin “E.Q.” Johnson.

The Man in Black , a compilation of three distinct works by three stand-out choreographers, runs this weekend at the Cobb Energy Centre.

The Man in Black – Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Johnny Cash

James Kudelka, the former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, channels Johnny Cash in a tribute titled “The Man in Black.” It features heart-tugging, gallant, humorous choreography over an adventurous suite of Cash’s hits and hidden gems. Dancers even don cowboy boots as a nod to Cash’s country roots.

A 2010 Dance Magazine review called the piece “ingenious.” “One of the finest works I’ve seen this season,” said writer Steve Sucato.  “In smartly crafted and marvelously danced vignettes, Kudelka tied his choreography to the emotions expressed in Cash’s music.”

1st Flash – Choreography by Jorma Elo, Music by Jean Sibelius

Power, energy and athleticism are paramount in Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo’s ultra-modern “1st Flash.”

A former hockey goalie, Elo’s dance career began on the ice when he turned to ballet to improve his flexibility and found he was quite good. Elo has now become one of the most sought-after choreographers in the business and was even singled out as a “talent to follow” by Anna Kisselgoff in her 2004 Year in Review for The New York Times.

A daring physicality infiltrates his works, which are characterized by movements that swivel precariously off-kilter, only to resume balance with total grace and control.

Moments of Dis – Choreography by Juel D. Lane, Music by Quentin “E.Q.” Johnson

A product of metro Atlanta’s Tri-Cities High School, Juel D. Lane has become a mainstay of the city’s burgeoning dance scene.

His work – as a dancer and choreographer – has appeared on major stages around the country. Lane’s world premiere “Moments of Dis will be the first main-stage foray for Atlanta Ballet.

In this number, Lane examines the implications of the prefix “dis”: “Sometimes we become disillusioned, disrespectful, or dishonest with our personal choices in life,” said Lane. “When we start to discern what the truth is, we can truly explore and manage our psyche.”

Lane describes his style of movement as very physical with a flare of hip hop and modern dance. The choreography is set to music by fellow Atlantan Quentin “EQ” Johnson. “We wanted to go with a house style rhythm for the first section – really groovy – to capture the essence of discombobulated,” explained Lane. “The second section is really mellow, and has an acute feel for discipline.  The third section is up-tempo, very funky and blends catchy rhythms together to produce discernment.”

The Man In Black runs for four performances Friday, March 23 – Sunday, March 25 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets start as low as $20.  Call the Ticketmaster Arts Line at (404) 817-8700, stop by a Ticketmaster outlet or the Cobb Energy Centre Box Office.  To order on-line, visit  Groups of ten or more may call Atlanta Ballet Group Sales at (404) 873-5811 ext. 207.


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