Atlanta Ballet names new Artistic Director
After much anticipation, Atlanta Ballet has officially unveiled its new artistic director – Gennadi Nedvigin, a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet. He will join the 87-year-old company as only its fourth artistic director, replacing John McFall, the current artistic director who’s been at the helm for more than 20 years.
Nedvigin will assume the post on August 1 after McFall ends his tenure on June 1, following the close of the company’s current 2015-16 Season.
“We are thrilled to welcome Gennadi to Atlanta Ballet,” said Allen W. Nelson, chair of Atlanta Ballet’s Board of Trustees. “This is a pivotal time for our organization, and we are confident that Gennadi will be a leader who can build on the rich legacies of John McFall, Robert Barnett and Dorothy Alexander, but also carve out his own legacy within our organization.”
“Gennadi has received some of the best ballet training in the world and has flourished as one of the great dancers of our time,” Nelson continued. “We believe he has the access, artistry and innate understanding of excellence to develop high quality, balanced and accessible programming, establishing an artistic vision that will position Atlanta Ballet to become one of the preeminent dance companies in the country and the world.”
Nedvigin will join Atlanta Ballet after 19 seasons with San Francisco Ballet, where he has been one of the most celebrated dancers of the company’s current era. He will now be one of three former SFB principals who currently lead a major ballet company in the United States, including Mikko Nissinen at Boston Ballet and Ashley Wheater at Joffrey Ballet.
From the Golden Ring of Russia to the Golden Gates of San Francisco
Born in Rostov, Russia, Nedvigin received his training from Moscow’s storied Bolshoi Ballet School and danced with Le Jeune Ballet de France and Moscow Renaissance Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a soloist in 1997. He was promoted to principal dancer in 2000. Since then he has been a standout in the ranks of what has been considered one of the greatest ballet companies in the world.
Nedvigin has danced works by some of the most prominent choreographers in the industry and excelled, with his performances wowing audiences and critics alike. Dance writers from the San Francisco Chronicle to The New York Times, have described his artistry as “dashing,” “brilliant” and a “paragon of finesse.”
Choreographers have been impressed by Nedvigin as well, including dance maker Liam Scarlett, artist-in-residence with The Royal Ballet in London.
“Gennadi, in my opinion, shows all the great qualities needed to be a true and wonderful director of a ballet company,” said Scarlett. “His training, both in his native Russia and abroad, has made him an incredibly well-rounded and un-biased dancer, with a clear understanding of many schools of training and a broad knowledge of the classical form… He has a superb capacity also to relay this knowledge to other dancers, especially younger members who clearly look up to and admire him.”
Nedvigin’s honors as a dancer include an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Best Ensemble Performance in Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude in 2001, as well as winning the Erik Bruhn Prize at the 5th International Ballet Competition in 1999. He received a Special Jury Prize at the International Ballet Competition in Osaka, Japan in 1995. He was nominated for the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Best Ensemble Performance in Possokhov’s Classical Symphony during the 2010 Repertory Season.
Stepping into new shoes
In recent years, Nedvigin has developed as a respected coach and teacher. While dazzling audiences on stage, he’s also made many fans in the studio, traveling the world staging works for choreographers, including San Francisco Ballet’s Resident Choreographer and fellow Russian Yuri Possokhov. In fact, it was Possokhov’s Classical Symphony that first brought Nedvigin to Atlanta Ballet when he set the work on the company in 2014.
Nedvigin also set Possokhov’s Classical Symphony on The National Ballet of Romania, whose artistic director, Johan Kobborg, valued how his experience as a dancer translated into the position as ballet master.
“With his keen eye, energy and focus, it was great for me to observe, not only the result of his efforts, but the process he and my dancers experienced,” said Kobborg. “His attention for details and talent for commanding a studio were greatly admired. His experience and reputation, the respect he enjoys from colleagues, his flair for teamwork, as well as his connections and network throughout the ballet world will make him a great asset to Atlanta Ballet, which is receiving a passionate, dedicated artistic leader.”
Nedvigin also received high praise from his director and mentor at San Francisco Ballet, Helgi Tomasson.
“Gennadi has worked with the best choreographers in ballet from the last two decades – William Forsythe, Mark Morris, Alexei Ratmansky, Paul Taylor, Hans van Manen and Christopher Wheeldon, to name a few,” said Tomasson. “With this experience has come a wealth of knowledge and perspective of choreographic possibilities. It has molded Gennadi’s artistic vision, and it is his conviction that will shape the Atlanta Ballet dancers and produce the finest performances onstage. Gennadi has the tools and the ability to combine those skills in a visionary and leadership role. As an artistic director for 31 years, I truly believe that he will thrive in this position and will lead Atlanta Ballet to an enduring future.”
Nedvigin will give his final performance with SFB during the company’s run of Cranko’s Onegin in May and will begin with Atlanta Ballet first thing in August. Joining him in Atlanta will be his wife, Miho Urata Nedvigin, and their daughter, Mila.
“I am very honored and excited to have been chosen to lead Atlanta Ballet as its next artistic director,” said Nedvigin. “I came to know the company when I staged a work for them two years ago, and I was very impressed—not only by the quality of the dancers, but by their incredible enthusiasm and passion. I look forward to building on the wonderful foundation and reputation that Atlanta Ballet has already established and to use my heritage, which is steeped in traditional classical ballet, along with my experience with other styles and techniques as a principal dancer at SFB to help guide the company forward.”
For more on Atlanta Ballet, including information on its current 2015-16 Season, visit www.atlantaballet.com.
Photo (top): Gennadi Nedvigin rehearsing Classical Symphony at Atlanta Ballet. Photo by Charlie McCullers. Photo (left): Nedvigin. Photo by Chris Hardy. Photo (right): Nedvigin in Scarlett's Fearful Symmetries. Photo by Erik Tomasson.