Walthall named artistic director at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre

SNELLVILLE -- The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre has hired a new artistic director. Wade Walthall replaces Jaime Robtison, the theater's former artistic director, which went into effect at the end of January.

"I had heard about GBT," Walthall said. "I went to graduate school with a friend from Snellville, whose original ballet training was at GBT and Miss (Lisa Sheppard) Robson (the ballet's former artistic director)."

While Walthall was visiting Snellville last summer, he met with Robson to catch up on old times. They knew each other from dancing with Pacific Northwest Ballet in the past.

Then, when he heard the artistic director position had opened up at the Gwinnett nonprofit, he took it.

"Teaching is one of my greatest passions and most rewarding experiences," he said. "I like being an artistic director. I like choreographing productions and the training of young people. The most rewarding periods of my life were when I was training young dancers and developing productions for them."

Walthall has a long history in dancing. His first taste of training was at the School of American Ballet in New York City and has danced with the National Ballet of Holland, National Ballet of Spain and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

He was also cast as the Nutcracker Prince in the 1986 film "Nutcracker: the Motion Picture."

Over the years, Walthall found time to earn a bachelor's degree in dance from the University of Washington and a master's of fine arts degree in dance from the University of Arizona.

For 12 years, Walthall served as artistic director for Evergreen City Ballet in Seattle, Wash. Now, the international dancer is making his home in Snellville to teach Gwinnett's young dancers.

"It is my intention to use my education and experience to the general benefit of others," Walthall said. "I hope to continue to learn, to teach and to create work which stimulates, entertains and inspires."

Walthall will be premiering his first production with "Cinderella" on March 3 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.

For more information about GBT, visit www.gwinnettballet.org or call 770-978-0188.