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The Company

Nena Gilreath is the co-founder of Ballethnic Dance Company, a professional ballet company founded in 1990 with husband Waverly Lucas. A highly sought after dancer, teacher and speaker, she teaches and coaches professional dancers and assists Lucas in creating Ballethnic’s unique style. Gilreath mentors young dancers and implements outreach initiatives including the Beyond the Barre leadership and empowerment program for young women. More...

Waverly T. Lucas, II is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Ballethnic Dance Company, founded in 1990 with his wife Nena Gilreath. A prolific choreographer, he has created more than 30 ballets, including the iconic Urban Nutcracker and The Leopard Tale. He established the Danseur Development Project, a program unique in its approach to athletic discipline and mentoring for males. More...

Amber Bates born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Amber began her early dance training with the Decatur School of Ballet. Most of her dance training, however, was received through the Atlanta Ballet Centre of Dance Education, with summers spent at Orlando Ballet, Boston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. While in the top level of Nashville Ballet’s advanced summer intensive, in 2011, she was offered to stay for the year as a trainee of the second company. The following year, Amber joined the Atlanta Ballet as a fellowship dancer, under the direction of John McFall. There she enjoyed performing in the Nutcracker, Michael Pink’s Dracula, and David Bintley’s Carmina Burana. As a company dancer with the Columbia City Ballet, some of her favorite ballets were William Starrett’s Dracula: Ballet with a Bite and Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, in which she danced a featured role. Last season, Amber danced with Ballet Memphis where she had the great privilege of working on and performing in the world premiere of Gabrielle Lamb’s Elapse. This is Amber’s first season with Ballethnic Dance Company and is excited for the journey ahead.

Rodney Bridges is a native of South Carolina and relocated to Georgia in 2013. Rodney began taking dance lessons at the age of 13 at Laurinburg School of Dance Arts. After completing his first year, he was accepted into the residential dance program at the South Carolina Governor’s School. He spent two years there before returning home and training at Crystal McInnis School of Dance. After completing high school, Rodney went on to dance for several local companies, projects, and choreographing for several events. After a five-year hiatus, he returned to dance and began dancing for Proia Dance Project. Rodney attributes his success to Stanislav Issaev, Irina Ushakova, Robert Barnett, Katie Ellison, Antonya Drakeford Windham, Crystal McInnis, Brandy Leviner, Jasmine Edney, Sandra Neels, Llyod Whitmore and Alexandre Proia. This is Rodney’s first season with Ballethnic Dance Company.

Brandy Carwile started her dance training at the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre. She continued by attending Brenau University as a dance major where she was also a member of the Gainesville Ballet. Brandy has performed soloist and lead roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty as well as other various works. A recognized choreographer, she has been a member of many local dance companies and is excited about teaching and dancing with Ballethnic Dance Company. This is her seventh season with Ballethnic.

Shawn Evangelista thanks Bala Sarasvati for being a mentor for well over a decade. Her training has instilled in him a level of reverence and discipline for the study of dance and movement expression. This has allowed him to progress successfully through training programs with American Dance Festival, Philadanco, Koresh, Limon, and Diavolo. He was also a member of Full Radius Dance for 5 seasons.

Chad Jones Graduated high school in 2006. He trained at Ballethnic Academy of Dance since age ten. He danced professionally with The Georgia Ballet, North Atlanta and Ballethnic Dance Company. Chad performed Bluebird in the Atlanta premiere of Jazzy Sleeping Beauty in 2009. This will be Mr. Jones first season as a company member.

Laila Howard is an artist, dancer, and educator. She trained primarily at Ballethnic Academy of Dance, but also worked with Christopher Huggins of Alvin Ailey, Gary Abbot of Deeply Rooted, and attended summer intensives at the Dance Theater of Harlem. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Spelman College, she returned to her home studio and is now completing her 5th season with Ballethnic Dance Company. She hopes to continue to inspire her students and audiences through dance.

Gretchen Hughes has been dancing since the age of 4. She received the majority of her classical ballet training through high school from The Northeast Atlanta Ballet in Lilburn, Georgia. With the Northeast Atlanta Ballet, Gretchen performed several premier roles such as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker. Gretchen supplemented much of her dance training by attending rigorous summer intensives such as the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive, the Milwaukee Ballet Summer Intensive, and the Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive. Additionally, Gretchen earned her Bachelors of the Arts degree in Dance with a ballet concentration from Kennesaw State University. She is currently a company member with Ballethnic Dance Company located in East Point, Atlanta.

Terrell Venn (Apprentice) a native of Atlanta, GA began his dance training at Ballethnic Academy of Dance at the tender age of five years old. During his tenure with Ballethnic, Terrell trained pre-professionally and has premiered in two of the company’s major productions, Jazzy Sleeping Beauty and Flyin’ West The Ballet, an adaptation of Pearl Cleage’s play, Flyin’ West. He has also performed several roles in their signature ballet, The Leopard Tale as well Urban Nutcracker.