The oldest continuously operating professional ballet company in America, Atlanta Ballet also is one of the country’s most daring, continuously pushing the envelope by matching daring young choreographers with unorthodox musical artists to create brave new works like the Big Boi collaboration big and the Indigo Girls-scored Shed Your Skin. For the ballet’s 80th anniversary season, however, they’re featuring progressive choreographers who prefer to play with classical music scores.

The season kicks off with a tribute to innovative Artistic Director John McFall. On Oct. 22-25, 2009, the 80th Anniversary Celebration at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre will celebrate McFall’s 15th year at the helm with special appearances from guest artists and Atlanta Ballet favorites.

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker, returns to the Fox Theatre from Dec. 11-27. The ballet’s traditional gift to Atlanta features hundreds of local children and is the best illustration of the ballet’s commitment to developing not only local talent, but also introducing children to the magic of dance.

In 2010, Atlanta Ballet returns to the Cobb Energy Centre Feb. 4-13 with a daring new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which puts its protagonists in a post-millennium setting where the TV-addicted Tamino and a punky Queen of the Night battle the evil philosopher Sarastro. Choreography is by Mark Godden, who has been hailed by Ballet Magazine for his ability to incorporate “the secrets we reveal and conceal, the contradictions that unsettle and enliven us.” For the kids, The Princess Suite — a ballet filled with classical princesses who triumph over adversity and live happily ever after — plays four special matinees between Feb. 13 and 14.

The Atlanta Ballet’s 80th season ends with two romantic classics: Four Seasons (March 25-28) and Lady of the Camellias (May 6-16). Atlanta Ballet will be the first company outside of the National Ballet of Canada to bring Vivaldi’s musical exploration of “everyman’s” journey from cradle to grave to the stage. Choreography is by James Kudelka, known for his exceptional ability to bring psychological nuances to dance.

Val Caniparoli’s take on Chopin’s romantic piano compositions vividly portray Lady of the Camellias’ tragic themes of betrayal, revenge and sacrifice. When the ballet premiered in Boston in 2004, the critic from the Boston Herald wrote, “Why have we had to wait so long to see a ballet by this gifted choreographer?” Expect to see inventive partnering and “a ballet of extremes, veering from the giddy life of Parisian salons and ballrooms to the utter bleakness of the heroine’s lonely death.”

Season ticket packages are now on sale and range from $54-$361. For more information, call 404-892-3303 or visit