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|‘Fusion’ marks Brian Wallenberg’s final regular performance with the Atlanta Ballet|
|by Jim Farmer|
|March 18, 2011 00:00|
As the Atlanta Ballet prepares to open the new show “Fusion” next week, long-time company member Brian Wallenberg has decided to retire.
A 13-year member of the company, Wallenberg, who is gay, decided earlier in the season to call it quits. It was a tough decision but one he knew was right. He is happy to go out with this mixed production, one he is very excited about.
“Fusion” is divided into three dances. “Lambarena” is choreographed by Val Caniporali and combines traditional African dance with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. It debuted in San Francisco 16 years and has been performed around the world.
“Petal” is choreographed by Helen Pickett and is set to the music of Philip Glass from his “Les Enfants Terrible.
The final leg of “Fusion” is the world premiere of “The Rite of Spring,” choreographed by Christopher Hampson, who presented “Sinfonietta Giocosa” for Atlanta Ballet in 2005. “Rite of Spring” was originally created in 1913 by composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Nijinksy. Nijinksy’s choreography caused riots in the aisles back in the day, although Hampson’s take departs from that. It involves only three dancers and it’s an intense piece for the trio, Wallenberg says.
Wallenberg, who dances in “Lambarena,” thinks there is plenty of gay appeal to this production.
“There are a lot of shirtless dancers,” he laughs. “The costumes are pretty revealing too from the men and women. I think ‘Lambarena’ has such high energy, and I think all three pieces will ones audiences like.”
He has been dancing professionally for 17 years now, starting at age 16, and has been a vital part of the Atlanta Ballet since moving here from the Houston Ballet Academy. Some of his memorable performances have been as Jonathan Harker in Michael Pink’s “Dracula,” Roasted Swan in Fernand Nault’s “Carmina Burana” and Peter Pan in John McFall’s “Peter Pan.” “Dracula” was a production he did every year the company staged it and he says he received great feedback about it.
“It was very popular,” he said. “I think what people liked was the theatrical nature of the production.”
Instead of leaving the company Wallenberg will move to the marketing department. Of late he has been handling Atlanta Ballet’s social media. His responsibilities include regularly updating Twitter and Facebook, something he’ll now do fulltime.
“I wanted something to fall back on,” he says. “We all know that we can’t dance forever.”
Nonetheless, he says he is still up for special performances. “The Nutcracker,” for instance, is a production he’ll perform in this holiday season.
“There is not a lot of training for that,” he says. “After 13 years I know it like the back of my hand.”
During the time he has been with Atlanta Ballet, he has seen a growth.
“It has changed for the better,” he says. “We have a new studio. The level of the company has improved. I am very excited about marketing it to the community.”
He has been proud of the support the LGBT community has shown the company.
Despite the theory that the ballet world is mostly gay, he says most men in ballet are straight.
“When I tell people that, their jaws drop,” he says. “But it’s a very comfortable world, a warm community. I’ve always been able to be who I am.”
Top photo: Brian Wallenberg, shown here dancing in ‘Carmina Burana,’ retires after dancing in ‘Fusion.’ (Courtesy Photo)
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