Atlanta Ballet defies gravity for 80 years

A white plume passes between two young dancers in the Atlanta Ballet's rehearsal hall. Company members Christian Clark and Nadia Mara playfully hand the feather back and forth to convey the soaring love of young Tamino and Pamina in Mozart's Magic Flute.

Choreographer Mark Godden watches the young dancers as they rehearse the opening show of the Atlanta Ballet's 80th season. Mara tucks the feather under her knee, Clark catches it between neck and shoulder, and the ballerina takes it back and flutters it like a wing. It looks light and flexible enough to be the perfect prop, but Mara notes, “You'd be surprised how hard it can be to make the feather do what you want.”

It's also hard to tell where Tamino and Pamina's budding romance stops, and where Clark and Mara's delight in their craft begins. With Godden as their de facto coach, they strive as hard as any athlete, but clearly enjoy their workout. At one point, Mara tucks up her legs as Clark hoists her onto his back, but the movement doesn't go as planned and Clark takes her on a brief, giggly piggyback ride.

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(Photo courtesy Atlanta Ballet)

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