GBT alum is one of '25 to Watch'

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre alumna Jessica Collado has been selected as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch: Who's Looking Fine in 2009." Collado, who graduated from Gwinnett Ballet Theatre in 2003, has been dancing as a member of the Corp de Ballet at the Houston Ballet since 2005.

Dance Magazine is one of the dance industry's most prestigious publications. Collado's being included in this list of "up and coming young dancers from around the world" is high praise indeed.

Although a member of the Corp de Ballet, Collado has been dancing soloist roles since she joined the company. Her talents are being appreciated. Choreographer Stanton Welch has created a lead role for her in his new, full length ballet "Marie," based on the life of Marie Antoinette. This will premiere in February. Collado said, "At this point in my career, I am up for any and all challenges, and roles that really push me. I am never afraid of making a total fool of myself in rehearsal. It's when I let my guard down that my best dancing comes through."

Collado will also be featured in the Houston Ballet's presentation of Nacho Duato's first work for the company, "Jardi Tancat," in May.

Local artists take part in exhibit

Visual Artists from Gwinnett are also receiving attention outside the county. The Buford Artists Group is participating in the "New Year/New Directions" exhibition at the Buckhead-Ida William's branch of the Atlanta Public Library. The show began Jan. 9 and will run through Feb. 5. Ten artists have submitted four works each for a total of 40 paintings.

Artists include Dolly Alexander, Frances Byrd, Beth Stokes A. Clinton, Anne Gordon, Rosemary Benavides Williams, the Rev. Durwent Suthers, Howard Wilemon, Anita Stewart, Louise Georges and Lois Colborn.

A Meet the Artists reception has been scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 31.

The Ida William Library is located on 269 Buckhead Ave. in Atlanta. Call 404-814-3500 for directions and further information.

'Singing Valentines' available

The Stone Mountain Chorus wants to remind everyone that their annual "Singing Valentines" are offered again this year. Available throughout the metro Atlanta area on Feb. 13 and 14, singing valentines will bring a harmony quartet of gentlemen to your sweetheart's door for a serenade of two songs, a rose and a card. Prices start at $50. Ordering is simple. Just go to www.stonemountainchorus.org or, for a $5 service charge, call the Valentine Hot Line at 678-985-8818. For more information, call Bill Banks at 770-623-4786.

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