I attended the Atlanta Ballet’s Heart/Beat: Gospel, Brubeck & Rhythms of the City on “AUC Night,” Friday, February 7, 2020, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The opening night concert lasted about two hours. I enjoyed all three acts of the performance and how each one offered a different experience. The final act, Sunrise Divine, was my favorite as the eleven pieces were arranged by Dr. Johnson and featured the Spelman College Glee Club. My favorite pieces included “Traveling Shoes,” “When The Battle Is Over” and “Hallelujah.” I enjoyed the melodies and catchiness of “Traveling Shoes” and “When The Battle Is Over.” Additionally, I appreciated the remix of the traditional “Hallelujah.” “Steal Away” was my least favorite because of the slower tempo; however, it was performed beautifully.
The combination of ballet and gospel was definitely interesting and something I have not experienced before. In comparison to other performances I have attended, this concert blended two different forms of artistic expression. At points, I found myself looking exclusively at the dancers or the singers and had to remind myself to enjoy both simultaneously. Despite its unconventionality, the pairing was a major success! As a whole, I found the audience to be very engaged with the performance, including singing along. Both the musicians and dancers were very well prepared for the concert and displayed a high level of energy in the performance of their craft. I do, however, feel that the singers displayed a deeper connection to the music and the genre of gospel as a whole. It would have been nice to see more black dancers. Overall, I appreciated the rich history of both the negro spirituals and ballet.