The Atlanta Ballet presented its summer series titled Wabi Sabi at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It was a hot, rainy, and steamy night in Atlanta. The Botanical Garden grounds were wet so dancing could be a challenge. But the Atlanta Ballet dancers seemed to handle that quite well. But this presentation, in contrast to past years, was just short of a disaster. The first piece was sort of a take on the bucolic joys of children romping, a la Tom Sawyer. It was corny and trite, but the eager crowd circled the dancers- mostly with tall people in front. This portion of the program was in a corner of the Garden's Grand Lawn. The next portion took place about a half a mile away in a plaza along a walkway in the forest area of the Garden. The plaza is fine for casual walking if one is a visitor to the park. It became a mess when maybe 200 people crowded into a space designed for 20. What's worse is that the dancers then moved along the walkway with the crowd following. Maybe the first 20 of the assembled mass could see what was going on. The line ended up to be maybe 75 rows of two or three craning their necks to see what was going on. For most, it became hopeless and they just began talking to each other. Another section of the program took place at the water stairs, a new feature in the park. The stairs flow from a plaza with a small pool. More people could be accommodated here, with many standing on a wall because the sightlines were rather poor. The dancers were good, and it was great to see one of them dancing in the reflecting pool But yet, with people encircling the dancers, they sometimes became lost in the visual curtain created by the crowd opposite from where AMC was standing. There was another section to the program, but AMC skipped it. It just didn't seem that the juice was worth the squeeze. AMC likes the concept of Wabi Sabi, but it really should go back to the drawing boards. Being embedded in the Garden during the summer is great, but only if the audience can see it. Now AMC understands the value of a theater.
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