Ballethnic Dance Company

Nena Y. Gilreath

  • 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 Arts by 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.

Waverly T. Lucas II

  • 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.

Karla D. Tyson

  • 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.

Rodney Bridges

  • Company Member

    Rodney Bridges is a native of South Carolina and relocated to Georgia in 2013. Rodney began taking dance lessons at the age of 13 at Laurinburg School of Dance Arts. After completing his first year, he was accepted into the residential dance program at the South Carolina Governor’s School. He spent two years there before returning home and training at Crystal McInnis School of Dance. After completing high school, Rodney went on to dance for several local companies, projects, and choreographing for several events. After a five-year hiatus, he returned to dance and began dancing for Proia Dance Project. Rodney attributes his success to Stanislav Issaev, Irina Ushakova, Robert Barnett, Katie Ellison, Antonya Drakeford Windham, Crystal McInnis, Brandy Leviner, Jasmine Edney, Sandra Neels, Llyod Whitmore and Alexandre Proia. This is Rodney’s second season with Ballethnic Dance Company.

Chad Jones

  • Company Member

    Chad Jones – Graduated high school in 2006. He trained at Ballethnic Academy of Dance since age ten. He danced professionally with The Georgia Ballet, North Atlanta and Ballethnic Dance Company. Chad performed Bluebird in the Atlanta premiere of Jazzy Sleeping Beauty in 2009. This will be Mr. Jones third season as a company member.

Devrae Johnson

  • Company Member

    Devrae “DJ” Jefferson (Company Member) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but raised on the south side of Atlanta, GA. DJ started his training in high school at Tri-Cities Visual/Performing Arts Program. Jefferson received full scholarships to attend summer programs like Metropolitan Ballet Theater and the Alonzo Kings Lines Summer Program. Jefferson has a BFA in Dance from the University Of North Carolina School of the Arts. Since graduation, DJ has danced with Dallas Black Dance Theater Encore and Ballethnic Dance Company.

Charity Broussard

  • Company Member

    Charity Broussard is a native of Flint, Michigan where she attended the Flint School of Performing Arts throughout high school. Upon graduation, she was accepted to Goucher College as a recipient of the Fine and Performing Arts in Dance scholarship. While at Goucher, Charity was a part of the Goucher Repertory Dance Ensemble, as well as a founding member of Goucher College’s Dancers of Color Coalition. While in the Goucher Repertory Dance Ensemble she worked with many choreographers some of which included Milton Myers, Gabrielle Lamb, Christian Von Howard, and Iquail Shaheed. She recently graduated from Goucher in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance Performance, with which she intends to continue inspiring others through dance. Since graduation she has begun working as a dance teacher and recently performed in works choreographed by Iyun Ashani Harrison, founder and artistic director of Ashani Dances, for Ashani Dances FIVE! at the Baltimore Theatre Project in Baltimore, Maryland. This is Charity’s first season with Ballethnic Dance Company.

Imani Nailah Christopher

  • Apprentice

    Imani Nailah Christopher is a native of Atlanta, GA. She began her dance training at age six with Elevated Places Dance Company, under the direction of Fredrika Wilson. After many years of competitive training, Imani joined Ballethnic in 2015 to study classical ballet. Imani graduated high school in 2017 and is in her first year as an apprentice.

Brandon Avery

  • Apprentice

    Brandon Avery (Apprentice) spent 12 years of self-instruction in urban dance technique until he joined ClearVision Dance Team in 2006. Avery took his first formal dance technique course at his alma mater, Knox College, and thereafter studied numerous dance techniques (e.g. classical ballet, modern, jazz, kick/pom/stunt, contemporary, bachata, flamenco, aerial fabric/sling) from artists and institutions such as Yanis Marshall, Dereque Whiturs of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Chicago Multicultural Dance School. Avery has performed with Ballethnic Dance Company, Red Clay Dance, Nejla Yatkin, Erica Mott, Shalamar, and MTV2. He is in his first season with Ballethnic Dance Company as a company apprentice, and this performance in Urban Nutcracker will be his first time ever participating a Nutcracker production! In addition to his apprenticeship, Avery is a teacher at Ballethnic Academy of Dance, and the founder/instructor of Hips & Heels by Brandon Avery™. Avery is a native South Holland, IL.

Terrell Venn

  • Apprentice

    a native of Atlanta, GA began his dance training at Ballethnic Academy of Dance at the tender age of five years old. During his tenure with Ballethnic, Terrell trained pre-professionally and has premiered in two of the company’s major productions, Jazzy Sleeping Beauty and Flyin’ West The Ballet, an adaptation of Pearl Cleage’s play, Flyin’ West. He has also performed several roles in their signature ballet, The Leopard Tale as well Urban Nutcracker.

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