BY DEBBIE DIAMOND /AJT//

Pull off your pointe shoes, take off your tutus, and get ready as the Atlanta Ballet kicks off “New Choreographic Voices (NCV)” this weekend. One of the three contemporary works featured in the show is Israeli Ohad Naharin’s unconventional “Minus 16,” a piece that has been described by critics as “bold” and “innovative.

Ohad Naharin is being called one of the world's preeminent contemporary choreographers.

Ohad Naharin is being called one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers.

With a musical score that ranges from Dean Martin and mambo to traditional Israeli songs, the unique experience – last performed in the U.S. by New York’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – calls for the audience to get in on the action as they are invited to be part of the dance, breaking the barrier between performer and spectator.

Naharin has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. As Artistic Director of Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company since 1990, he has guided the company with an adventurous artistic vision and reinvigorated its repertory with his captivating choreography.

He is also the originator of an innovative movement language, Gaga, which has enriched his extraordinary movement invention, revolutionized the company’s training and emerged as a growing force in the larger field of movement practices for both dancers and non-dancers.

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This production (shows run March 22 through 24) kicks off a multi-year relationship between the Atlanta Ballet and Naharin. Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director John McFall was first exposed to Naharin’s work during a 2010 visit to Israel.

“I was immediately struck by the intensity of Naharin’s work,” McFall said. “The piece took me on so many levels emotionally. I wanted the Atlanta Ballet to represent his voice in a region of the United States that is still fairly unfamiliar with Gaga (Naharin’s signature style), Batsheva and Israeli dance.

“Now with our three-year, three-work agreement, we’re taking the first step.”

The Atlanta Ballet debuted NCV in the 2010-2011 season, and since the program has showcased some of the industry’s most talented and well-respected choreographers, all hand-chosen by McFall. This weekend, in addition to Naharin’s piece, choreographer Gina Patterson will debut her second world premiere for the Atlanta Ballet.

Titled “I AM, Patterson explains that the piece is an “exploration of self-discovery and the moment when a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can change a life forever.”

Rounding out the program is an encore performance of “Rush” by one of contemporary ballet’s most innovative choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon.

New Choreographic Voices runs Fri., March 22 through Sun., March 24, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339. Tickets start as low as $20 and are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit atlantaballet.com or call (404) 892-3303. Be aware that this program includes nudity and parental discretion is advised.

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