Tara Lee: Ballet Dancer and Choreographer – Theatre People
By Mitch Stark
I am so thrilled to introduce you to my friend Tara Lee, an incredible ballet dancer as well as the co-founder, producer and choreographer of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre in Atlanta. Tara and I have collaborated on several shows for Terminus, and I’m always struck by her extreme dedication to craft, the artistry, but above all the deeper message and heart she’s aiming to bring forth in each production.
In addition to this interview, I have a longer zoom chat with Tara where we dig deep into her thoughts about ballet and storytelling on the stage.
Tara Lee, co-founder of Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre and veteran dancer at the Atlanta Ballet.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
Of the dance productions I’ve seen in recent years, Betroffenheit – created by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young, is a standout. They connect the elements of dance, theatre, and lighting so seamlessly, and it’s a completely immersive and moving experience.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre/ballet?
My first performances with both Atlanta Ballet and Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre were very special. It was wonderful to feel the excitement of a new beginning, and the potential of what lied ahead.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I once saw a musical where one of the leads fell sick in the middle of the show, and the director stepped in to read the lines from an iPad. It wasn’t so much a goof as it was a crazy situation … very entertaining.
Why do you love theatre/ballet?
I love going on a journey with a theatre full of people, that connects everyone and also gives each person room to personalize their experience.
Theatre/ballet is for…
Theatre and dance take us to a place of imagination and raw emotions—it’s a reminder of what is true and beautiful about being human.
More about Tara
Tara Lee is an American-born Chinese ballet dancer, choreographer, and actress. She received her dance training from Donna Bonasera of Connecticut Dance Theatre, and received a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School. After dancing with Joffrey II in New York City, she met John McFall who invited her to join Atlanta Ballet; she has been a principal artist with the company for 21 years. Tara has also been a member of Ballet British Columbia and a guest artist with New Orleans Ballet Theatre and Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre in Houston.
Her repertoire includes work by celebrated choreographers such as Jorma Elo, Christopher Hampson, James Kudelka, Jiri Kylian, Douglas Lee, Wayne MacGregor, Ohad Naharin, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Gina Patterson, Helen Pickett, Michael Pink, Crystal Pite, Yuri Possokhov, Alexei Ramantsky, Liam Scarlett, Lauri Stallings, Ben Stevenson, Twyla Tharp, and Stanton Welch.
Principal roles include Odette in Swan Lake, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Ophelia in Hamlet, Mina in Dracula, and the title roles in Madame Butterfly, Cinderella, and Firebird. Tara has taught company class for Atlanta Ballet and the pre-professional level of Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, as well as master classes for several schools and universities in Georgia including Emory and Brenau Universities. She has choreographed five original works for Atlanta Ballet. Her sixth commission is scheduled to make its world premiere in April 2018. She has also created/restaged several ballets for Wabi Sabi, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Emory Dance Company, and Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami.
Tara is an actress represented by J. Pervis Talent, and has co-starred in television series such as TNT’s Good Behavior and NBC’s Game of Silence.