Courtesy Joseph Gatti

Joseph Gatti Is Starting His Own Summer Company Prioritizing Dancers' Health

Class, rehearse, perform, repeat—a typical day at a ballet company follows the same routine week after week. It's a relentless cycle that Joseph Gatti, a former principal with Cincinnati Ballet and Corella Ballet and first soloist with Boston Ballet, thinks has a negative impact on professional dancers' longevity and performance quality. Now, Gatti—who has had an extensive international freelance career in recent years— is founding his own company in Orlando with a distinct focus on maintaining dancer health and wellness. Called United Ballet Theatre, the company will treat its dancers as athletes, building time within the workday for cross-training and personalized medical care, and alternating days of rehearsal intensity.

Gatti plans to start small as he builds support. For now, the company will employ between 8–10 dancers (including Gatti), as well as a handful of world-renowned guest artists. UBT will also operate during the summer months. "It's mainly for dancers on layoff who want to continue dancing, so that they can get consistent pay and work with great teachers and physical therapists," says Gatti. Artistic staff includes Vadim Fedotov, Irina Depler, Stanislav Fečo, Orlando Molina and Lasha Khozashvili. Repertoire and performance dates are yet to be confirmed, although Gatti hopes to bring in new contemporary works and condensed full-lengths, like Fedotov's Romeo and Juliet.




Gatti started questioning how ballet companies manage artists' health and work schedules after sustaining a serious foot injury two years ago. Usually, dancers' days consist of learning choreography and performing run-throughs; medical care and cross-training are done on their own time. Yet Gatti's freelance career gave him the opportunity to explore better models for managing ballet's physical demands. "I've tried to be very consistent with taking class and going to the gym," he says. "I actually had time to do that because I wasn't rehearsing 8 hours a day."

UBT dancers will likewise have more variety in their schedules: A heavier rehearsal day will be followed by a day of light rehearsals, cross-training and medical care. "I would be giving them time to work with personal trainers, swim, to do things that are important to dancers to create longer, healthier careers," says Gatti. His staff includes top dance-medicine professionals, such as Heather Southwick, head of physical therapy at Boston Ballet; Jacqueline Haas, an athletic trainer for Cincinnati Ballet; and Jaime Diaz, a teacher and certified personal trainer for San Francisco Ballet School.

UBT will share studio space with the Russian Ballet of Orlando, and Gatti is is currently in negotiations to book a theater. Auditions announcements are forthcoming. For now, he and executive director James Boyd are focused on securing funding. When asked if he thought Orlando could support two professional companies (the other being Orlando Ballet), Gatti felt confident it could, especially since UBT will be in season during OB's off-season. "The structure of UBT will empower our dancers to perform at their absolute best and that will positively impact the quality of our viewing audience."

Latest Posts


Cory Weaver, Courtesy San Francisco Opera

Dancing Divas: How Performing in Operas Can Be a Career High Note

From the flamenco of Carmen to the sprites of Rusalka, dance plays a supporting role in countless operas—and opera can play a significant part in a ballet dancer's career. Pointe went behind the curtain with three dancers whose artistic paths have led them to the opera world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
James Barkley, Courtesy Dance for Change

Take Class From Celebrated Black Dancers and Raise Money for the NAACP Through Dance for Change

Since the nationwide fight against racial inequality took center stage in May, organizations across the dance world have been looking for meaningful ways to show their support, rather than fall back on empty social media signifiers. July 10-11, Diamante Ballet Dancewear is taking action with Dance for Change, a two-day event dedicated to fundraising for the NAACP, and amplifying the voices of Black professional dancers.

Organized by Diamante Ballet Dancewear's founder, Nashville Ballet 2 dancer Isichel Perez, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre teacher Elise Gillum, Dance for Change makes it easy to participate. Dancers need only to make a donation to the NAACP (in any amount) and email proof to diamante.ballet@gmail.com to be given online access to a full schedule of Zoom master classes taught by Black pros artists. Teachers include Ballet Memphis' George Sanders, Boston Ballet's Daniel Durrett, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Corey Bourbonniere, and more. "It's important that we amplify BIPOC voices during this time, and it's also important that we're conscious of where we're putting our dollars," says Bourbonniere. "Diamante is doing both with Dance for Change, and I'm honored to be in this talented group of melanated dancers."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Houston Ballet's "Dancing With Myself" Captures How We All Feel Right Now

What are dancers to do when they're still stuck at home in isolation? After all, there's only so much time you can spend taking barre, tackling your reading list (or Netflix queue) or ticking items off your to-do list. Even wistfully looking out the window has lost its appeal after a few months.

That's when you need a dance party—even it's for a party of one.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks