Nashville Ballet celebrates director’s 20th anniversary season

Nashville Ballet principal dancer Kayla Rowser. (photo by Chad Driver)

Since its founding in 1986, Nashville Ballet has grown to become the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee, presenting a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Honor Nashville Ballet’s extraordinary past, exceptional present and groundbreaking future by joining in the ultimate evening of celebration commemorating Paul Vasterling’s 20th anniversary as Artistic Director at a Gala Performance on December 13, 2018 in TPAC’s Jackson Hall with live music performed by the Nashville Symphony.

“As I enter into my 20th year as Artistic Director, I am in awe of the growth of our company and artists,” says Vasterling. “This season is truly revolutionary in subject matter and artistry; my hope is that we’ll challenge both dancers and audiences in a way that affords progress and growth. With such a spectacular repertory, our goal is to take what’s next and turn it into what’s now.”

Curating a collection of classical and contemporary works never before seen at Nashville Ballet with a few familiar favorites, Vasterling sets the tone for the company’s next 20 years of athleticism, artistry, imagination and innovation—all culminating in a truly grand finale featuring a procession of Nashville Ballet artists from School of Nashville Ballet students to the professional company.

Nashville Ballet owns its own building, The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet, a customized facility that serves as a home for their professional dancers, school students and administrative offices. Though some performances are held at The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet, most performances are held at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in downtown Nashville.

Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.

Nashville Ballet is pleased to announce its 2018-2019 season, celebrating Paul Vasterling’s 20th anniversary as Artistic Director. Touting musical collaborations that embrace the multitude of talents in Music City, the upcoming season ushers in a new era of artistry in Middle Tennessee with groundbreaking premieres and beloved fan favorites:

First up is SWAN LAKE, September 21-23, 2018, TPAC’s Jackson Hall, Choreography after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with Additional choreography, editing and story treatment by Paul Vasterling; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony; and Music by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky. A cherished favorite for ballet connoisseurs and an instant hit for novices, Swan Lake returns to Nashville Ballet to open the season with a dazzling fresh take on the classical masterpiece. Featuring choreographic updates from Artistic Director Paul Vasterling and striking new costumes, this enchanting romance attempts to answer the timeless question – can true love conquer all? Swan Lake will be at TPAC’s Jackson Hall for three (3) performances: Friday, September 21, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 2 p.m. Check the website to see when Kayla Rowser performs! Kayla will reprise the iconic dual role of Odette / Odile after previously being cast in it in their 2014 production.

SEVEN DEADLY SINS WITH SUPERSTITIONS, October 18-20, 2018, TPAC’S Polk Theater. Seven Deadly Sins concept and choreography by Christopher Stuart; Music written and performed live by k.s. Rhoads and Ten Out of Tenn; Superstitions choreography by Jennifer Archibald; and Music composed and performed live by Cristina Spinei. Back by popular demand, Christopher Stuart’s exhilarating collaboration with Nashville singer-songwriter collective Ten Out of Tenn exposes the most sinister side of society as the protagonist confronts his demons in a performance that will haunt viewers long after the curtain falls. Challenging the viewer’s perceptions of ballet, Jennifer Archibald’s Superstitions blends the precision, technicality and athleticism of tradition with contemporary dance styles as Christina Spinei’s composition mirrors the convergence of past and present. Seven Deadly Sins will be at TPAC’s Polk Theater for three (3) performances: Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, October 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.

NASHVILLE’S NUTCRACKER, December 1-23, 2018, TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Concept, story treatment and choreography by Paul Vasterling; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony; Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Nashville’s Nutcracker heralds the return of the holiday season in Music City as young Clara takes audiences on a journey through a spectacular dreamland with her magical Uncle Drosselmeyer. Weaving the awe-inspiring wonder of the classic tale with the city’s glittering past, Nashville’s Nutcracker is a beloved holiday tradition guaranteed to delight the young and young-at-heart. Check for exact dates and times through December.

ATTITUDE: LUCY NEGRO REDUX, February 8-10, 2019, TPAC’S Polk Theater. Choreography, adaptation and direction by Paul Vasterling

Based on the book by Caroline Randall Williams; Music composed and performed live by Rhiannon Giddens; Spoken word performed live by Caroline Randall Williams. A world premiere by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling, Lucy Negro Redux explores the mysterious love life of literary great William Shakespeare through the perspective of the illustrious “Dark Lady” for whom many of his famed sonnets were written. Based on the book by Nashville poet Caroline Randall Williams, the contemporary ballet explores themes of love, otherness, equality and beauty as the narrator embarks on a journey to discover her own power and worth. Featuring an original score by Grammy Award-winning artist and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Rhiannon Giddens with spoken word performed by Williams, Lucy is an imaginative drama brimming with wit and relevancy. Check the website to see when Kayla Rowser performs! Artistic Director Paul Vasterling is setting the work on Kayla in the role of Lucy Negro / the narrator. As a work created specifically for an African American female lead, Kayla has already been very involved in the creative process.

FAMILY DAY AT THE BALLET, March 31, 2019, Nashville Ballet Studio A. Degas & the Little Dancer choreography by Paul Vasterling; Based on the book by Laurence Anholt; Music by Dr. David M. Bridges. Dragons Love Tacos storytime choreography by Paul Vasterling; Based on the book by Adam Rubin. At Nashville Ballet, every day is full of magic! Family Day at the Ballet invites the entire family to spend an engaging afternoon in Nashville Ballet’s extraordinary world. The day brings children’s book favorites to life with a wildly entertaining performance of Degas and the Little Dancer and a Dragons Love Tacos storytime. Interactive movement activities give little ones a chance to show off their moves, while arts and crafts allow kiddos to unleash their creative side.

MODERN MASTERS WITH BEN FOLDS, April 26-28, 2019, TPAC’s Jackson Hall. The Ben Folds Project: Concerto choreography by Paul Vasterling; Music by Ben Folds; Live music performed by Ben Folds and the Nashville Symphony; Duo Concertant choreography by George Balanchine

Music by Igor Stravinsky; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony. The Lottery based on Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” Presented by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson and literary media; Choreography by Val Caniparoli; Music by Robert Moran; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony. Bloom choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; Music by Philip Glass; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony.

Highlighting innovation and artistry, this season’s Modern Masters showcases choreographers that have challenged the bounds of the art form through big ideas and intriguing collaborations. The Ben Folds Project: Concerto makes its triumphant homecoming after Nashville Ballet’s critically acclaimed Kennedy Center debut in 2017. George Balanchine’s Duo Concertant delivers a rare look at the breadth of the father of American ballet’s magnificent repertory, while The Lottery keeps audiences and dancers both on edge with the promise of a thrilling climax—the ballet’s final soloist will be selected by a real lottery live on stage. Inspired by the beauty of Eastern rituals, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Bloom rounds out the program.

SEASON SPECIAL: CARMINA BURANA, May 31 – June 3, 2019, Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Choreography by Paul Vasterling; Music by Carl Orff; Live music performed by the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Symphony Chorus and Blair Children’s Chorus. Experience Carmina Burana as never before in this multimedia sensation featuring updated choreography from Nashville Ballet and an original film that will bring this bawdy medieval text vividly to life. With its epic score for full orchestra, adult chorus and children’s chorus, Carmina Burana is a feast for the senses, and this is your chance to witness the debut of Nashville Ballet and Nashville Symphony’s exciting new production.