Nashville Ballet Opens Season With Virtual Performance

nashville ballet
Photo by Heather Thorne

Nashville Ballet opens its 2020-21 performance season with a virtual production of Community Nov. 20-22. Celebrating the spirit of the city, Nashville Ballet’s mixed repertory program will include Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s celebrated Appalachian Spring set to the beloved score by Aaron Copland. Additionally, Community will feature works by three artists whose careers blossomed at Nashville Ballet.

“As we all navigate this socially and culturally defining moment together, it’s more important than ever we use the arts as an avenue to process the changing landscape,” said Vasterling. “In our season premiere, the common theme is the exploration of what it means to be a part of a community and our responsibility to one another. The pandemic has shown us the invaluable need for true human connection and support, and I could not think of a more relevant time to present Community than now.”

Vasterling’s Appalachian Spring offers an abstract interpretation of Copland’s iconic Americana score. The ballet examines the simplicity of a bygone era as viewers watch the story unfold among nine family members and their relationships with one another, all the while exploring themes of love, loss, and togetherness. Vasterling received the prestigious honor of approval to present this work by the Copland Foundation, which first premiered to Nashville audiences in 2017 and is back by popular demand.

Appalachian Spring will be complemented by three additional pieces. Deconstructed Bach is choreographed by Charlotte Ballet II Artistic Director Christopher Stuart with music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The ballet will feature live cellist Sari De-Leon Reist, artistic director of the Grammy-nominated Alias Chamber Ensemble. Previously presented during a unique collaboration with the Frist Art Museum as well as Nashville Ballet’s annual Ballet Ball, this is Deconstructed Bach’s premiere within Nashville Ballet’s regular season.

Burgeoning choreographer and veteran Nashville Ballet Company Dancer Mollie Sansone will debut Bootleg Sugar Lips. Underwritten by Catherine and Frederick Grace in recognition of Women in Creative Leadership, the ballet explores female power and strength. With music by Cristina Spinei, the high-energy, all-female cast showcases an intriguing juxtaposition between the regimented nature of ballet and the military.

Finally, the program will include The Talk with choreography from former Nashville Ballet Company Dancer Gerald Watson and music by Emmy-nominated Dave Ragland. The ballet delves into the role of the mother as the centralized thread that ties families together. In particular, the piece shows a mother having “the talk” with her young son of color regarding how to present himself when encountering law enforcement to provide socially relevant commentary on today’s landscape.

Rehearsals and filming for Nashville Ballet’s Community are in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health. Additionally, Nashville Ballet is under continued consultation with a team of trusted medical advisors and close collaboration with the Metro Nashville Public Health Department. This includes rapid tests for dancers actively filming without a mask, weekly tests, daily temperature and symptom checks, a mandatory mask requirement at all times while in the facility (with the exception of a dancer actively filming), enhanced filtration measures to upgrade the existing HVAC system, social distancing, cleanings, hand sanitizing, and more. Nashville Ballet has also instituted assigned pods during all rehearsals. In addition to limiting the amount of dancers present in each studio, this includes 8-foot squares taped onto the floors to maintain appropriate social distancing.

In addition to the performances, Nashville Ballet will offer a series of community-building activities. For example, Nashville Ballet’s Community Challenge encourages participants to share how they connect with their local neighbors by tagging Nashville Ballet on Instagram and/or Facebook with the hashtag #communitychallenge. Additionally, School of Nashville Ballet is granting access to a wide variety of free, on-demand adult classes.

With tickets at just $20, Community will premiere virtually for three performances Friday, Nov. 20 through Sunday, Nov. 22. For more information, please visit www.nashvilleballet.com.

About Nashville Ballet

Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the second company, NB2 (a pre-professional training company), provide more than 55,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through season performances and its Community Engagement programming. Curriculum-based Community Engagement programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries, and public elementary, middle, and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet brings world-class dance instruction to students age 2 and up. To learn more about Nashville Ballet, please visit nashvilleballet.com.

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


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