Project Love ATL: Atlanta Ballet's Alessa Rogers on Gratitude and Giving Back

 In Archives, Dd Exclusive

Project Love ATL is a benefit performance leveraging the talents of thirty diverse professional artists from Atlanta–dancers, musicians, actors, and visual artists–to raise awareness and funds for a charitable cause. This year, proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction will go to Lost-n-Found Youth, an organization which addresses the needs of homeless LGBTQ youth and then helps them transition into more permanent housing.  

{ DIYdancer } caught up with Project Love ATL’s creator, Atlanta Ballet dancer Alessa Rogers, to find out what motivates her to organize so many different artists in service of community.

{ DIYdancer }: How did you become involved with Lost-n-Found Youth?

Alessa Rogers: Last year, the first Project Love ATL event was held in support of Partnership Against Domestic Violence, where I had volunteered for two years on both the crisis line and at the shelters. Since I had worked one-on-one with them, I knew they would be the first organization to support, but I also knew I wanted to alternate causes moving forward. There are just so many causes that need awareness, and I want to be able to champion causes that focus on humanity locally.

So around the time we were putting the first benefit on, I started to research for new organizations. I read an article about the only homeless shelter in Atlanta, and Georgia for that matter, for LGBTQ youth. I had never before considered it such a crucial thing until I started reading more about the challenges LGBTQ adolescents face, from abusive situations in families that may require them to runaway to the lack of safety on the street and in traditional homeless shelters, where there is also abuse. I have so many LGBTQ friends, and I am grateful for their health and safety, so I knew that should be the next organization to put our focus on.

{ Dd }: Do you have set goals as far as how much money you want to raise?

AR: Last year we ended up overshooting our goal, so I am hoping this year we will raise at least the same amount or more, and get more people to buy tickets to the show in addition to bidding in the silent auction. Last year, the performance was new and it rained, so we are hoping for better attendance this year.

{ Dd }: How did you select this diverse group of artists, and why did you go that route instead of just doing a dance benefit?

AR: I think that having more artists involved is more appealing to an audience. I also wanted this event to be different than just a night at the ballet or theater, I wanted to prove a community of artists banding together can get together and do some good for the community. I have made so many connections with artists that aren’t dancers, and more connections and collaborations have been made through working on this benefit. Collaboration is vital in this difficult climate for artists and since we share this common thing, we can use that to give back.

Photo by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Photo by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

{ Dd }: Where does your spirit of service come from?

AR: I think it stems from gratitude. I feel lucky to have this life as a working artist–it is filled with joy and fun–and not everyone has been as lucky or gets to have the experiences I do. I don’t have a lot of money but what I do have is a particular talent, and I am grateful I am able use it to help others in some way.

{ Dd }: How do you balance organizing this event with being back in season?

AR: I don’t even know how I find the time! I carried the idea around in my head for ten years before I felt like I could balance my work schedule and have enough connections to ask for help. It is harder for a first year company member to ask to borrow a marley floor. It took me time to get to this place where I am more established and feel enough legitimacy to ask for these kinds of things, and now that I am able to do it, I just get up earlier and stay later…do interviews in traffic. (We both laugh, since we are talking while Rogers sits in said infamous Atlanta traffic.) The other dancers help out too; some come to my house and fold programs and the younger ones teach me how to use instagram.


Project Love ATL
Monday October 10th

7:30 p.m. (come early to eat and drink)
Park Tavern
Atlanta, GA

Click Here for Tickets. $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Click Here to make a donation.

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