“I am looking forward to building on the foundation started by Iris Hensley. Our future looks very, very bright,” said Proia, who succeeded Gina Hyatt-Mazon.
Hyatt-Mazon returned to Hamburg, Germany, in 2012 as school director for the Hamburg Ballet.
In addition to classical ballet, Proia’s vision for The Georgia Ballet is to broaden the mediums of expression to include the individual talents of his dancers for the productions.
“I have singers, tap dancers, choreographers, musicians, photographers and filmmakers. I want to get to the core of who these artists truly are and bring those talents forward. All of that talent I will include in the productions to come next year,” he said.
Along with new Associate School Director Fiona Fairrie, Proia seeks to implement new methods that complement and build on the traditional disciplines in order to create more experiences for his students.
“I want my young dancers to be well-rounded so that they are even better and greater artists if they choose to be,” said Proia, a Marietta resident. “Fiona’s undeniable knowledge and energy will enhance my own and serve as an indispensable guide to make our students balanced performers.”
Proia possesses the talent to institute a new, modern direction for The Georgia Ballet. Having grown up in Paris, he attended The Paris Opera Ballet School where his groundwork was laid.
“The Paris Opera Ballet School is what gave me what I give my young dancers now — the foundation and great appetite for artistry, expression, research and body language exercised in order to perfect the instrument that is our body,” he said.
At age 17, Proia joined the Boston Ballet, where he worked with Rudolf Nureyev.
“He pushed me to a principal role. Rudolf Nureyev was a huge influence in how to perfect your art, to be very much of a giver, an actor in your dance, and very hungry to be on that stage and the appetite for work,” Proia said.
“My personal journey with (Nureyev) was such that I recognized he was a great example for me as a teacher and that later on in life I should give back as a teacher,” he said.
Proia’s journey took him to the New York City Ballet, where he performed as soloist and principal dancer for 12 years under Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins. In 1995, he was featured in the Tony-nominated Broadway production of “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” He joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1997 as guest artist, and worked with director/choreographer Martha Clarke for three years on various productions, including Vers La Flamme and Hans Christian Andersen.
Proia has choreographed and taught for companies and schools including The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera, Teatro Colon, School Of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Alvin Ailey School, Joffrey School and Juilliard.
Through a new outlet, Proia hopes to excite another audience. The Georgia Ballet plans to increase their season to five or six performances and is looking to expand into different venues and performance spaces.
“People are sometimes afraid of change or don’t take time to understand that it may be change for the better or there is time and place for discussion. It’s going to add on a lot that brings The (Georgia) Ballet to the 21st century,” Proia said.
“It is important to challenge your mind, your eyes, and to fall in love again. (Ballet) unites people. What the art does is heal people. It brings them a different way of thinking or asserts one way of thinking,” Proia said.
To learn more visit georgiaballet.org or call (770) 528-0881.