HAPPY FEET: Peng-Yu Chen, center, and Nicole Johnson, right, rehearse for big at the Atlanta Ballet studios. For more photos of dancers rehearsing the show, click here.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
(Updated with link to cover story)
My cover story about big, the collaboration between OutKastâs Big Boi and the Atlanta Ballet, will appear in this weekâs issue and should be âliveâ on the Creative Loafing website by Wednesday afternoon â complete with the story and a few online extras. But thereâs PLENTY of stuff that didnât make the article, unfortunately, so I thought Iâd use PopSmart to clean out the reporterâs notebook, so to speak.
One of the things I wish I could have used more was an interview with dancers Nicole Johnson and Peng-Yu Chen. The interview was conducted during the first week of full-time rehearsals for big, so even the dancers were still learning the choreography and the story, but the interview offers some interesting perspectives on the collaboration at the ground level.
Hereâs the bio for Peng-Yu Chen, better known to her fellow dancers as âPong,â as taken from the Atlanta Balletâs website â¦
A native of Taiwan, Peng-Yu Chen began training in Chinese folk dance and gymnastics at the age of ten. She received her BFA from SUNY Purchase under Carol Walker and received the Chancellors Award for Student Excellence and the Presidents Award for Achievement. She has performed with the Kevin Wynn Collection and in the Metropolitan Opera Balletâs production of The Rite of Spring choreographed by Doug Varone. She danced for American Repertory Ballet for three seasons where she performed works by Graham Lustig, Lauri Stallings, Val Caniparoli, Melissa Barak, and Twyla Tharp. Peng has been named by Dance Magazine as one of the â25 to Watchâ in 2007, and she thanks her family and friends for all the support and love.
And hereâs Nicole Johnsonâs bio â¦
Nicole has trained with Atlanta Ballet since John McFall came to Atlanta as artistic director. Since then she has been involved in several productions including Nutcracker, Serenade, Requiem, Romeo & Juliet, Dracula, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Snow White, Peter and the Wolf, Madam Butterfly, Giselle, and Lauri Stallingsâ works Shoo Pah Minor and bekken/the drum also waltzes. Most recently, she enjoyed performing the role of Jordan in John McFall and Lauri Stallingsâ The Great Gatsby, as well as Caribosse in Sleeping Beauty. Outside of ballet, Nicole is a student at Georgia State University and will graduate with a degree in history in the fall of 2007. Nicole enjoys an array of artistic expressions and hopes that she will be able to make a valuable contribution to the dance world.
And here's the interview. Enjoy.