This blog was guest-written by Tony Harris. Tony is a journalist and filmmaker and hosts The Discovery ID true crime series Scene of the Crime with Tony Harris.
I must admit, before starting work on the GPB film The Art of Survival featuring The Georgia Ballet, I didn't know the difference between a tendu and a port de bras. I didn't know that French is the universal language of ballet. There weren't ballet performances at my middle school in northwest Baltimore when I was growing up.
But I did have a close encounter with ballet stardom.
In the late 1980s, I was living in a New York City apartment just across from Lincoln Center, the home of the American Ballet Theatre. You’d think I’d buy a ticket and check out the premiere ballet company in the country. Nope!
It gets worse. I walk out of the elevator heading to work one day and who’s talking to my doorman? None other than the late, brilliant Alexander Godunov.
“He lives in the building?”, I ask the doorman. “The guy from Die Hard?” Yeah, that was me. What a knucklehead.
Here’s the thing: If you live long enough and stay curious, life WILL expose you to things that are beautiful, soul inspiring and even breathtaking. For me, great ballet is one of those things.
The Art of Survival is the story of the happy warriors at The Georgia Ballet in Cobb County, Georgia who survive and thrive, even when the bottom line is flashing red, by producing professional, classical dance performances for the greater Atlanta community.
Watching a company class is to realize immediately that these are athletes at work. Lean muscles stretching, reaching, resisting, accommodating, it's easy to imagine your own muscles snapping like piano wire under this stress.
Listening to a company class is to hear Spanish, and English, and French spoken in equal measure by a group of instructors and company members from all over the world. Francisco Aguilar is from Colombia. Courtney Walker is from Macon, Georgia. Nicole Khoo is from Singapore. Artistic Director Daet Rodriguez and his wife, Ballet Mistress, Margit Peguero are from Cuba.
And, you know, it all makes sense. A September 2018 survey from the arts advocacy group Americans for the Arts, found that "72 percent of us believe the arts unify communities regardless of age, race and ethnicity."
We believe in the arts in America! 91 percent of us believe the arts are part of a well-rounded education for K-12 students, according to that same American for the Arts survey.
And, there is good news on the funding front. It looks like corporations will increase funding for the arts over the next year. That bodes well for The Georgia Ballet, a dance company and school determined to stay relevant even when the bottom line is flashing red. I hope you watch and enjoy The Art of Survival.
A film by Tony Harris
Writer: Tony Harris
Producer: Michael Harris
Production Coordinator: Michael Harris
Editor: Gregory Jackson
Director of Photography: Wes Nichols
Additional Videography: Tony Harris
Narration: Virginia Prescott
Graphic Design: Shanika Ballard
Special Thanks to:
The Georgia Ballet
Georgia Public Broadcasting