Choreographer

Michael Garrison, instructs Kai Shlomi and George Song to prepare for their duet in “Vivaldi in the Park.”

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The North Atlanta Dance Theatre is teaming up with the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra to present a unique outdoor concert May 4 in Newtown Park. 

The performance will feature the entirety of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” The four 10-minute movements all feature original choreography by Michael Garrison, the studio’s co-founder.

“These dancers have had to learn a large volume of choreography in a short time, to their credit they’re doing a beautiful job,” said Kitty Garrison, Michael’s wife, the other founder of the studio and the costume designer for the show.

The nearly 20 dancers in the show could not begin working on “Vivaldi” until after the studio recital in March. Throw in prom, spring break and exams, and the producers knew they had a tight schedule. 

“The biggest challenge is just trying to do things quickly but not jumping to the first thing you think of,” Michael said. “It’s finding the time for developing it, cleaning it.” 

Still, the Garrisons were excited to take on Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” music many people find recognizable and accessible.

“Vivaldi is a favorite of a lot of people,” Michael said. “Lots of choreographers like to work with Vivaldi because of the structure and the texture of his music.”

In addition to Vivaldi, the show will also include Aram Khachaturian’s “Masquerade Walz,” which will feature elaborate, ballroom inspired costumes.

A professional dancer, Marillo Barbosa, and a student, Kai Shlomi, will present Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion,” a somber duet.

Erin Burt, a former student with North Atlanta Dance who now performs with the Sarasota Ballet, will present the ballet classic “The Dying Swan” to the piece titled “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens. 

“I always say bring the tissues for this one,” Kitty said. 

Burt’s solo will keep the original choreography of the piece first performed in 1905 by Russian prima ballerina. Anna Pavlova.

Michael worked with Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra Maestro Wayne Baughman to select the music. 

The idea for the collaborative concert originated with the company’s development director Stephanie Magaldi as a way to celebrate the ballet company’s 20th anniversary. 

“It makes you wonder where the time goes,” Michael said. “We come to work, we look around and we pinch ourselves because we can’t believe we’ve made it to this level.”

The Garrisons said they hope the collaboration between the performing arts groups will make a statement about the strength and potential of arts in Johns Creek. 

“I hope that the city of Johns Creek will embrace that and realize we’re just one of many things the city has to offer,” Kitty said.

In addition to the symphony and ballet, the Johns Creek Arts Center joined the collaboration by providing 250 handmade book markers for attendees. The bookmarks will be a mandala pattern for coloring to be given away along with a small box of crayons. 

The concert will by May 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mark Burkhalter Amphitheatre in Newtown Park, at 3150 Old Alabama Road. 

Tickets are $25 with option additions for catered dinners by Fancy Pantry. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/vivaldi-in-the-park-tickets-59251017388. 

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