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Art Beat: 3 ballet companies end season on high pointe

Three of Gwinnett's most active ballet companies are ending, or have ended, their seasons with a lot of excitement.

First up, Northeast Atlanta Ballet will be performing a mixed program at 7:30 tonight and again at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. Featured is the family-friendly favorite "The Little Mermaid" with sumptuous costumes and sets.

"Mermaid" also offers a unique rivalry one thought existed only in football.

It seems that Parkview High School sophomore Genevieve Colangelo and Brookwood High School junior Katie Lampl are sharing the role of Little Mermaid. And although this type of competition might express itself more brutally on the playing field, on the stage things are more sedate.

Northeast Atlanta Ballet's Artistic Director Jennifer Gordon explains, "Although Genevieve and Katie attend rival high schools, they have been taking class together for 10 years and, all kidding aside, remain good friends even though they often compete for the same roles."

"The Little Mermaid" offers more than a pretty ballerina as a lead role. There are dancing fish, limber lobsters, prowling urchins, sparkly sea horses and, of course, enchanted mermaids.

Children who arrive a half hour before curtain can have the opportunity to meet either Genevieve or Katie and receive an autographed photo.

The production will also offer several other dances. "Anchors Away" is a fun maritime piece, another nod to aquatic themes, with a cast of 50 dancers, all wearing authentic/traditional Navy uniforms. "Fiddle Faddle" is a brightly costumed piece reflecting traditional Broadway style musical review numbers. Its choreography is by award-winning New Yorker Marcus Galante, formerly of the New York City Ballet. The music is by Leroy Anderson.

For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 404-249-6400 or visit the Gwinnett Center Box Office. For more information, call 770-921-7277.

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and Southern Ballet Theatre spent April 30 through May 3 in High Point, N.C., at the prestigious Southeastern Regional Ballet Association's annual event. Held in a different city every year, this coming-together of member ballet companies from around the South means days filled with classes by prominent international teachers and choreographers. Three evenings are spent enjoying each company's performances, selected by an adjudicator who traveled to all 23 companies and selected pieces for each of the performances.

The first evening was titled the "Emerging Choreographers Concert." Friday evening was titled "Festival Concert" and Saturday "Gala Concert."

Southern Ballet Theatre was chosen to be the final performance for the "Festival Concert." They performed a delightful piece called "Push/Pull," choreographed by SBT's own Amy Orr. The piece awarded them Gala Credit.

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre opened the second act during Saturday's "Gala Concert" with a dynamic, virtuoso piece called "Tocarre," which was choreographed by GBT alumni Robert Dekkers, now dancing with Ballet Arizona.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail hcalmes@mindspring.com.