About GBT

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre was the first performing non-profit organizations in Gwinnett County and celebrates over four decades of serving the community with entertainment, outreach, and education. In 2020, Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and Sugarloaf Youth Ballet announced an exciting new partnership that connected the two organizations, creating a premier dance education center and launching a local professional ballet company in Gwinnett County.

Artistic Director

Lori Zamzow-Wire has been passionate about dance since her early childhood. Growing up in Lakeland, Florida, Lori received much of her early training and teaching experience from Florida Dance Theatre. Lori furthered her dance aspirations by attending the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis on dance performance.

Lori has performed with several professional dance companies including dancing as a soloist for five years with The Georgia Ballet. In addition, Lori has extensive teaching and choreography experience. Her leadership acumen has allowed her to successfully organize and implement a ballet program at the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA. After several years as Ballet Mistress at Sugarloaf Performing Arts, Lori purchased the studio in 2004. Since then, she has transformed the organization into a well-respected dance training facility that houses Sugarloaf Ballet, a nonprofit performing company. Lori’s compelling vision has produced a very distinct teaching philosophy: “Dance is a great preparation for life. It teaches discipline, balance and concentration. It builds self-esteem, strength and character. Dance instruction is beneficial to all, whether or not they wish to become professional dancers.” Her studio and its programs emphasize preparing the whole person, not just the dancer.

Ballet Master
Bruce Thornton

Bruce Thornton received his dance training in his native Seattle, Washingon, at the Cornish Institute, and then with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Thornton was a soloist with the Miami City Ballet and danced a range of roles with the company; including: the “Blue” gentleman from Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, and the principal “walking” pas de deux from Emeralds, the Elegie principal from Serenade, the principal male in Concerto Barrocco and Elegie, the role of Death in La Valse, as well as the “turning” principal in La Valse, the Baron in La Sonnambula, the second Pas de Trois from Agon, the first and third themes from The Four Temperaments, all by GeorgeBalanchine.

Thornton has a wide variety of experience with other choreographers, including: Paul Taylor, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Richard Tanner, Margo Sappington, Sir Frederick Ashton, August Bournonville, Richard Weiss, and Edward Villella. He has performed as a guest artist for the Carolina Ballet in their televised performances of Romeo and Juliet and Lynn Taylor Corbett’s Cabaret at Café Marcovici. He performed for former President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton, in a televised performance of The Kennedy Center Honors; in honor of the award to Edward Villella. Thornton brings his expertise in the Balanchine repertoire through his work with the great Edward Villella, as well as his 20 years of professional work to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet as a member of the faculty. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Empire Stage College of the State of University of New York.

Our History

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre was founded in 1977 by Lynn Snipes, becoming the first performing non-profit organization in Gwinnett County. The original mission continues: to provide local dancers with the training and performing experience necessary for a professional dance career while serving the community with entertainment, outreach, and education. During the decades that followed GBT was led by several other artistic directors including Lisa Sheppard Robinson who nurtured GBT for 15 years, Wade Walthall and Angela Harris.  GBT produced many dancers who became notable professionals around the world, including Princess Grace Award winner, Alessandra James (Charlotte Ballet), Jessica Collado (Houston Ballet) among many others dancing across the country.

In 2020, Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and Sugarloaf Youth Ballet forged a partnership.  The two prestigious organizations joined forces in February 2020 to create a premier dance studio that brings opportunities for professional dancers and students who aspire to perform at the highest levels. Under the leadership of Artistic Director, Lori Zamzow-Wire, GBT transitioned into a professional ballet company offering paid company contracts and a full performing season.

The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre performance season includes three major productions each year performed at the Infinite Energy Theatre in Duluth, GA. GBT’s most popular performance and holiday gift to the community is The Nutcracker. In 2021, GBT will mark our 40th annual production of The Nutcracker! Our Nutcracker is the second largest production of this holiday classic in the Northeast Georgia/Metro Atlanta area, offering 16 performances over 3 weekends in December, reaching over 12,000 audience members annually!

Gwinnett Ballet Theatre and the Sugarloaf Youth Ballet are based at the Sugarloaf Performing Arts Center in Suwanee. It is the largest location for dance instruction in Gwinnett County and features a dance instruction school, youth ballet company, daytime ballet conservatory and professional ensemble.