The professional company of six dancers was formed and began its history on the campus of Spelman College with the assistance of Mozelle Spriggs, the Chair of Dance who had always envisioned this type of company in Atlanta. Spelman College Dance Department created a foundation for the Ballethnic Dance Company, whose first concert, coached by Dr. Pearl Primus, was the initial exploration to blend ballet and African dance concepts.
Cofounders immediately started to create original versions of Ballets such as Urban Nutcracker, changing the setting to Atlanta’s own Sweet Auburn Avenue. Resident Choreographer Waverly T. Lucas II selectively created dances that were more reflective and inclusive of the black or African diasporic experience while maintaining particular classical consistencies. Hundreds of thousands of cast and audience members have had an Urban Nutcracker experience, and the tradition continues. Their vision was groundbreaking as they decided to trailblaze their path, creating original works and opportunities influenced by African American and African diasporic culture, demonstrated in their unique African Ballet, The Leopard Tale. This growing vision required a training ground; hence the manifestation of Ballethnic Academy of Dance was formed, incubating this increasing desire for an organization that could provide a place for dancers from training to a professional job in the company.