Ballethnic Dance Company

People used to ask Waverly T. Lucas his favorite types of dance. Trained in ballet, he was torn between classical dance and his love of African, Afro-Cuban, and other ethnic forms. So, he came up with a word that encompassed the dance idioms that he loved, and the idea behind “Ballethnic” was born.

Ballethnic Dance Company’s mission is to combine classical ballet with African dance and other forms from around the world. Lucas and his wife, Nina Gilreath, founded the company in 1990 as a way to offer opportunities to those often overlooked in the classical dance world. At Ballethnic, dancers of different races and body types can find a place, dancing lead roles that wouldn’t have been available to them in other companies.

As the oldest African-American ballet company in the South, Ballethnic has a lot of knowledge to share. The Company created Ballethnic Academy of Dance to offer dance instruction to students of all ethnicities and economic backgrounds. Students from the Academy are incorporated into the company’s larger shows, among them the annual holiday tradition of Ballethnic’s “Urban Nutcracker.”

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