ART BEAT: Gwinnett Ballet Theatre announces its new staff

Special Photo: Richard Calmes. Jaime Robtison, pictured with GBT student Kaylee Boyd, is the new artistic director of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre beginning Aug. 8.

Special Photo: Richard Calmes. Jaime Robtison, pictured with GBT student Kaylee Boyd, is the new artistic director of Gwinnett Ballet Theatre beginning Aug. 8.

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is Gwinnett County's oldest nonprofit performing arts organization, formed in 1977 by Lynne Snipes. For the past 14 years, Lisa Sheppard Robson has been at the helm as artistic director, steering the company to achieve many honors and produce many wonderful dancers.

Robson is now handing over the reins to a new generation of leadership. Beginning with the new school year Aug. 8, dancers and parents will be greeted by new artistic director Jaime Robtison and new school administrator Brandin Prettyman. Prettyman replaces retiring school director Susan DeParle.

The search to find her replacement was not easy for Robson.

"I believe that leading GBT as artistic director has been the greatest gift to my life and the most rewarding experience, but now it is time to pass the torch and allow a new administration to take the reins and foster GBT with their artistic vision and vitality. And I am convinced that we have found the perfect person in Jaime Robtison," Robson said.

"In my quest for a successor, I was not expecting to find all of the attributes I desired in one person. And then there was Jaime. She possesses all the strengths and unique qualities necessary. I could not be more thrilled for the dancers and the community to be guided, directed and nurtured by her more than capable hands."

Robtison is excited about her new endeavor.

"I am thrilled and honored to be Gwinnett Ballet Theatre's new artistic director. It is with great pride and diligence that I will continue former director Lisa Shepherd Robson's dedication to the development and nurturing of Gwinnett's young artists," Robtison said.

The new artistic director has a strong background in the ballet world. She has most recently been artistic director for The Covington Regional Ballet and also taught at The Atlanta Ballet, both for the past 10 years. She also holds a degree in business administration.

Her training and performing career included scholarships to The Nutmeg Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet and the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. Her professional experience has included work with the Richmond Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Dance Alive Touring Company, performances with the Roanoke Opera, and many guest dancing performances for companies in the U.S. She has performed such roles professionally as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" and both Sugarplum and Arabian Princess in "The Nutcracker." She has enjoyed creating story book ballets for her Covington company such as "Little Mermaid" and "Snow White."

Prettyman is moving to Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tenn. She also has a strong background, having worked in management with such companies as Sephora. She also has much experience in theatre where she has acted and directed.

The public, and especially potential new students, are invited to GBT's annual open house Aug. 6. The studios will be inviting everyone to come meet the new staff and tour the facilities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.