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The Founders

Waverly T. Lucas II is a former member of Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Atlanta Ballet, and "Heartstrings." While attending Mary Grove College in Detroit, he began to choreograph and conceived the concept and name of Ballethnic Dance Company. Mr. Lucas was the recipient of the Princess Grace Scholarship.

In Ballethnic's short history, he has created more than 20 orginal ballets including two full length works, Urban Nutcracker, and The Leopard's Tale. His choreography has been performed in the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, the National Black Arts Festivals, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday Celebration, 93, KINGFEST, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Outreach Program.

As a part of the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival effort, not only did he choreograph and perform Alonzo, he also had the opportunity to have Irene Tassembedo's Rain Dance set on him. He was chosen for the National Choreographers Award at the Southeastern Regional Ballet Festival.

Mr. Lucas is the creator of the Danseur Development Project which is a training program for young males in dance and is the co-artistic Director for Ballethnic Youth Ensemble. Waverly most recently set Urban Nutcracker, Act II on the University of Georgia and the East Athens Dance Center. Mr. Lucas has also danced with "Harry the Hawk" of the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni, performed and taught intermediate and advanced ballet at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference, and appeared as Junebug in the HBO film "Miss Evers Boys."

Mr. Lucas was Artist in Residence at the University of Georgia in 1997 and is a member of (BIND) Black Independent Network of Dancers.

Nena Gilreath is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance.

Ms. Gilreath began her career by moving to Atlanta and joining the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre. She later joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem, touring nationally and internationally. She was also a member of the cast in Creole Giselle featured on NBC's 60 Minutes documentary about Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Ms. Gilreath returned to Atlanta in 1988 to join the Atlanta Ballet, where she continued to perform such ballets as Giselle, Serenade, Stars and Stripes, and Coppelia to name a few. She also performed the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for Artistry in Motion in Detroit, Michigan; and Ebony Dance Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina. While performing for the Atlanta Ballet and the Heartstring National Tour benefiting AIDS research, her interest in creating outreach programs for children was greatly enhanced. With the creation of Ballethnic Dance Company January 15, 1990, she has implemented numerous outreach programs including the BUDDY Project through the Atlanta Project, which served as a model form the existing Danseur Development Project. She also assisted husband Waverly Lucas II with the choreography for Something Inside So Strong, which was the predecessor for the company blending ballet with African dance. Ms. Gilreath currently serves as co-founder and co-artistic director of Ballethnic Dance Company and Ballethnic Academy of Dance. She continues her original role as a dance artist and mentor for many young dancers. Throughout the years, many roles have been created for her including Little Wing, Urban Nutcracker's Brown Sugar, and The Leopard Tale's Leopardess.

She was creative Loafing's 2000 Best of Atlanta Critics Pick-Best Dancer, she received Atlanta Business League's Success Against The Odds Award in 2001. She along with husband, Waverly T. Lucas, II received the 2002 Global Diversity Business Exchange Atlanta Entrepreneur Award. Ms. Gilreath is a recipient of The 2003 Pinnacle Leadership Award.

Ms. Gilreath continues to serve on grand panels, dance panels, and education panels. She frequently speaks to young people throughout the United States on becoming a professional artist and achieving success in the field. She is a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance where she has taught ballet, performed, and served on dance panels. Ms. Gilreath has traveled to West Africa to study African dance and drumming and has served as the model for translating African movements to pointe for choreographer Irene Tassembedo's piece Trouble performed for the 1996 Cultural Olympiad. She frequently assisted husband and choreographer Waverly Lucas II in creating Ballethnic's unique style.