Productions

Company & Guest Artist Bios

Co-Founder / Co-Artistic Director

Mrs. Gilreath is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. She began her career by moving to Atlanta and joining the Ruth Mitchell Dance Theatre.  She later joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem, touring nationally and internationally.  In 1988, Ms. Gilreath returned to Atlanta to dance with the Atlanta Ballet.  Finally, on January 15, 1990, along with husband and choreographer Waverly T. Lucas, II they created Ballethnic Dance Company. She has implemented numerous outreach programs including the BUDDY Project through the Atlanta Project, which served as a model for the existing Danseur Development Project.  Ms. Gilreath currently serves as co-founder and co-artistic director of Ballethnic Dance Company and Ballethnic Academy of Dance. She continues her original role as a dance artist and mentor for many young dancers as well as assisting Mr. Lucas in creating Ballethnic’s unique style. Ms. Gilreath was creative Loafing’s 2000 Best of Atlanta Critics Pick-Best Dancer; she received Atlanta Business League’s Success Against the Odds Award in 2001. She, along with Mr. Lucas, received the 2002 Global Diversity Business Exchange Atlanta Entrepreneur Award. In addition, Ms. Gilreath is a recipient of the 2003 Pinnacle Leadership Award. Nena and Waverly were recently selected as the December 2006 Lexus Leaders of the Artsby Georgia Public Broadcasting. Nena was also recognized in Atlanta Magazine’s December 2006 issue as one of the “Top Twenty Women in Business”. She is also the recipient of the 2007 Charles Loridans Award. She also received the 2008 Atlanta NAACP President’s Award for their positive influence on today’s youth.


Co-Founder / Co-Artistic Director

Mr. Lucas attended Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan, where he conceived the concept and name for Ballethnic Dance Company. In Ballethnic’s short history, Mr. Lucas has created more than 30 ballets, including four full-length ballets: Urban Nutcracker, The Leopard Tale,  Flyin’ West … the ballet (based off of the Pearl Cleage play) , Epiphany….another Moment of Gospel Ballet and Jazz, and Jazzy Sleeping Beauty, which premiered in Cincinnati, Ohio, September, 2007 and was produced by Ballet Tech Cincinnati. He is the creator of Ballethnicize, an evolving dance/fitness discipline that combines African dance styles with classical ballet. He also established the Danseur Development Project, a dance-training program for young males. Mr. Lucas’ choreography has performed at the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, the 1997 Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Concert Series, the National Black Arts Festival, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Outreach Program. Mr. Lucas choreographed Aida for the Atlanta Opera and Once on this Island and Memphis for the Aurora Theatre and Theatrical Outfit. Internationally, Mr. Lucas has studied West African dance and drumming in Senegal and Brazil and taught at the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference. He also taught Ballethnicize workshops and gave lectures at the Universidad de Technicale Lisboa in Portugal. In 2003, he presented workshops in Sao Paulo Brazil at the Taina Cultural Arts Center. Due to his faithful commitment towards the arts, Mr. Lucas has received numerous awards and honors including the Princess Grace Scholarship, National Choreographers Award, and the McPheeter’s Medallion Award for Community Service by the Auburn Avenue Research Library. He has been recognized as one of Atlanta’s Community Leaders in the 2002-2003 edition of Who’s Who in Black Atlanta, and a recipient of the 2003 TBS Trumpet Awards for Dancer/Choreographer. Mr. Lucas and Nena were selected as the 2006 Lexus Leaders of the Arts by Georgia Public Broadcasting and also received the 2008 Atlanta NAACP President’s Award for their positive influence on today’s youth. Mr. Lucas’s film credits consist of Miss Evers Boys, Krush Groove, Vision (on BET), as well as several short film projects.


Associate Artistic Director / Guest Artist

Adam L. McKnight (Guest Artist) – Adam’s talents have been showcased in major events with the Atlanta & Knoxville Symphony Orchestras, Atlanta Youth Symphony, Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Centennial Olympic Games, on TV & Radio commercials for TNT Sports, Black & Decker, ESPN Radio, Cellular One and the Georgia Lottery. As a testament to Adam’s musical ability and vocal talents he arranged, recorded and toured a year with the legendary superstar Sir Elton John. He has also shared the stage with such notables as Patti Labelle, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, CeCe Winans, Diana Ross, Faith Hill & the Pointer Sisters. Currently, Adam serves on the Board of Governors of the Atlanta Chapter of the National    Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.  Adam has appeared at The Alliance Theater as co-writer/performer in the original play “Leap”.  Theatrical credits include “Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel”, “Big River”, “Driving Miss Daisy”, “Heartstrings”, “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar”, “Black Nativity” & “Eubie” to  name a few.


Company Member

Karla D. Tyson (Company Member) began dancing at the age of five at the Ballethnic Academy of Dance under the direction of Nena and Waverly Lucas.  As an apprentice at Ballethnic Dance Company, she performed the role of Brown Sugar in Urban Nutcracker at just sixteen years old. Ms. Tyson was selected to the Governor’s Honors Program in the summer of 2005 as a dance major.  She was chosen to go to Las Vegas, NV to participate on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in season eight.  After living in Los Angeles, CA for the last five years while dancing as a Laker Girl for the Los Angeles Lakers for three seasons, Ms. Tyson is excited about her return to the company.


Guest Artist

Theresa Freeman-Howard (Guest Artist) is a native of New York and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Theatre Education and a Master of Science degree in Dance-Movement Therapy.  Mrs. Howard is currently an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University (KSU) and an instructor of African Dance at Emory University. She has instructed dance workshops at Georgia Tech, Gwinnett Technical College and Swarthmore College. She has studied Modern, jazz, ballet, African, Balinese, and belly dancing at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Charles Weideman School of Dance, Martha Graham School of Dance, Olatunji School of Dance, and the Dinizulu Dance Studio.  She has performed with Chuck Davis African American Dance Theatre, Joan Miller and the Chambers Arts Players, Eleo Pomare, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and performed Alvin Ailey’s Revelationsat Herbert H. Lehman College.  Mrs. Howard directs ‘Edeliegba” the H.J.C Bowden Senior Dance Ensemble and instructs children and adults in various dance forms. She is an accredited Yoga instructor and currently teaches at Ballethnic Academy of Dance. She is a recipient of the 2008 Pinnacle Leadership Award, 2007 Winterfest Volunteer Angel Award and the 2006 W.O.M.E.N. Award. This is Mrs. Howard’s 27th season as a guest artist with Ballethnic Dance Company.


Guest Artist

Billy Mims-Goodman (Guest Artist) known for his “signature” role as the Drunken husband, in Ballethnic Dance Company’s Urban Nutcracker production, Mr. Goodman acknowledges not only the formative role that dance has been, but the healing power of it which has helped to save his life and balance the demands of his medical career as a nurse anesthetist. A member of Whole Heart Productions, co-author of “Paper-Thin, Soul-Deep, jewelry maker and aspiring actor, he brings an infectious energy to each interest.  He is grateful for the tremendous opportunity to be part of this esteemed performance & work with such devoted artists of brilliant talent. Mr. Mims-Goodman started his formal education in dance with tap & acrobatics at the age of four while attending Sammy Dyer School of Theater in Chicago, Illinois.  Under the instruction of Jerrel Jordan & Teddy Levy, he became proficient in advanced skills while participating in annual recitals. He acquired jazz training after the age of twelve also with Jerrel Jordan and with his late sister, Brenda Goodman-Calloway.  After a 2-year hiatus, he returned to the stage as a member of the show “Chicago, My Chicago“.  Liturgical dance became his focus during his undergraduate years at Xavier University.  Through participation in Better Family Life’s Black Dance USA conferences in St. Louis, Missouri, he received his first exposure to African, Afro-Caribbean and Dunham techniques.


Guest Artist

Sheila Spivey (Guest Artist) has been dramatizing and narrating for 37 years, embracing the soul of each character she portrays. She has graced many stages with her acting abilities. This year marks her 14thseason in The Urban Nutcrackeras “Big Mama”. Big Mama’s storytelling has brought much joy, laughter and excitement to many families who have witnessed The Urban Nutcrackeryear after year! Paralleled to her personal journey in becoming a new grandmother, Ms. Spivey embodies the role of Big Mama with zeal, wholesomeness and a contagious affection for people of all ages. As the thrill of the holiday season draws near, Big Mama would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and spirit filled holiday!


Guest Artist

 

Mona L. Scott (Guest Artist) is a native of Jamaica, Queens, New York. Her dance career began at Bernice Johnson Performing Arts Studio located in Jamaica, Queens, New York. Ms. Scott was the dance captain for Charles Moore African Dancers and Drummers Junior Company located in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. degree in Theatre/Dance from Queens College, Flushing NY and her M.A. Degree in Dance Movement Therapy from Antioch, New England Graduate School, located in Keene New Hampshire. Ms. Scott has taught Tap Dance at Ballethnic over 20 years. She is a published author of three children’s books and a Tap Dance Manual for beginners. She gives thanks to God for giving her talents to share with others.


Guest Artist

 

Brittany Steele (Guest Artist) is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and received her early dance training from Ballethnic Dance Company.  A graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC with a degree in Hospitality Management, Brittany returned to Ballethnic and her true passion, dance to resume training. Brittany has performed in Ballethnic’s Urban Nutcracker, The Leopard Tale, Epiphany 2, Flying West, Best of Bal ethnic, and has appeared in the premier of Jazzy Sleeping Beauty in Cincinnati, OH. Currently serves as an administrative assistant for Ballethnic, instructor of Hip Hop and Kiddie Ballethnicize. In addition to dancing with Ballethnic, Brittany also serves as the Minister of Dance at College park CME Church in College Park, GA.


Guest Artist

 

Martine Bartley began her formal dance training at Ballethnic Academy of Dance in East, Point, GA. While at Ballethnic, she performed in many productions such asThe Urban Nutcracker, The Leopard Tale, Jazzy Sleeping Beauty, and Flyin’ West.  Martine was also a member of the Ballethnic Youth Ensemble. During her last two years of high school, she had the opportunity to be an apprentice with Ballethnic Dance Company. Aside from her training at Ballethnic, she attended summer intensives at Orlando Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Carolina Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2015, Martine had the honor of being selected for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program as a dance major. Martine was the recipient of the Imani “Twiggy” Twine Memorial Scholarship given to a senior in high school exemplifying qualities such as leadership, work ethic, consistency, and dance talent. Martine went on to obtain a B.F.A. in Dance at the University of Saint Francis which partners with Fort Wayne Ballet in Fort Wayne, IN. She graduated in December of 2020. While at Fort Wayne Ballet, Martine was a trainee with the company and performed in ballets such as The Nutcracker and Coppélia. Martine is excited to be returning to dance with Ballethnic.


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