Find out how this troupe works and what’s coming up this season in our interview with founder and Atlanta Ballet dancer, John Welker…
What first inspired Wabi Sabi?
I took inspiration from many sources, but the main one was an article about the Japanese concept of “Wabi Sabi” and how beauty can be found in the quality of imperfection. For an artist, it’s a liberating concept: to embrace one’s imperfections cannot only be beautiful, but it can be used as a way to create beauty from what makes us unique as individuals.
How are dancers selected for Wabi Sabi?
Atlanta Ballet dancers mainly select themselves for Wabi Sabi. We give them the parameters of the summer and the work we will be doing. Then, they can determine whether it’s something they want to be a part of.
Do Wabi Sabi dancers have other summer jobs as well? Do rehearsal and performance schedules have to work around this?
Yes, oftentimes the dancers do hold other jobs; and I try to work with their summer schedules. Scheduling is the hardest part of my job. Everything has to be coordinated to work efficiently. This includes the dancers, choreographers, costumes designers, musicians, and performance venues, plus the production, marketing, ticketing, and development staff.
Rehearsal of Sean Hilton’s Dormant Gods
How are costumes, props, and other non-dance tasks handled within Wabi Sabi?
Wabi Sabi was built in 2011 under the company umbrella of Atlanta Ballet. This gives us the ability to create and do things with a limited budget that we otherwise couldn’t.
We rely on the support of Atlanta Ballet’s staff for everything non-dance related such as costumes and props. That said, it is wholly a group effort. In large part, Wabi Sabi is able to do what it does because job titles are thrown out the door. You can find dancers doing production work. You can find development staff doing marketing work. Occasionally, we will run into a project where it is necessary to hire outside sources, but it is rare.
How long does it take to plan a season for Wabi Sabi?
Though we operate only in the summer, it takes a year of planning to make it happen.