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Meet John Welker

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Welker.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Long story short, I watched my older sister dancing from a young age, she said I should give it a try, my mesomorph brother wanted to take ballet for flexibility with the idea it was going to make him jump higher. For whatever reason, my Mom signed me up to take ballet classes instead of my brother. I quickly got into dancing, as I got more serious about it, all my other activities fell by the wayside: Piano, swimming, soccer, you name it. By the time I was 16, I was performing professionally and getting paid to dance. After high school and a lot of serious training, I left my hometown of Columbus Ohio to dance out west where I meet my wife of soon to be 20 years, Christine. After a year out west, I had enough, Christine and I moved to Atlanta a year before the city hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic games. We fell in love with Atlanta and been here ever since.

Simply put I’m passionate about ballet and dance in general. It has given me an incredible career: 26 years as a principal dancer, I’ve traveled the country and world teaching and performing as a guest artist, I’ve directed, produced, performed, taught and commissioned many new dance works. I founded Atlanta Ballet’s contemporary dance offshoot Wabi Sabi, and just last year I co-founded Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre with an extraordinary group of principal artists – Tara Lee, Rachel Van Buskirk, Heath Gill, and Christian Clark.

Please tell us about your art.
Everyone knows ballet through the annual Nutcracker and classic Swan Lake. Both ballets are beautiful and classic productions that have done so much for the art form, but I also consider it a huge problem. People misinterpret these two productions as representative of ballet in general, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ballet and dance, in general, are incredibly athletic and artistic: It can be sensational or sublime, narrative or abstract, masculine or feminine, dance has so many faces. Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre (TMBT) was founded with the idea of disrupting misleading ballet stereotypes because we feel it holds the art form back as being relevant to today’s audiences.

In a nutshell and at its core TMBT creates stories through dance because we simply see ballet, and all other dance techniques for that matter, as a language. And nothing could be more human than the desire to tell stories. We want our audiences to see dance as an essential part of their cultural life because it is entertaining and it helps to connect and define them to a time and place. In other words, dance creates purpose and meaning for us as individuals and as a society. Not to get too deep or serious, dance is awesome!!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Time and money, period. This might be weird to say in the context of art because it is so conventional, but it is a simple truth. Creativity and innovation cannot take place without the space provided to artists through time and money. As people know most of the time, you either have time and no money, or money and no time, but rarely do you have the luxury of both together.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
We perform all over Atlanta in theaters, art galleries, and outdoors, we do it all. To be specific, we perform in Serenbe (Chattahoochee Hills) 20 minutes south of the airport, in West Midtown at the Westside Cultural Arts Center, we’ve performed at the High Museum, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Kennesaw State University’s dance theater, and even at Piedmont Park.

To support us come and enjoy a show! Get involved and volunteer, we are a non-profit so you can give a tax-deductible donation. And all of this can be accessed through our website:

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Joseph Guay
Ben Rawson

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