Ascend Amphitheater Hosts Nashville Ballet’s Comeback Performance

Seats in a Nashville theater.

Nashville Ballet prepares to come back after a year that saw many of its performances getting canceled and virtual programming becoming successful. Therefore, its stage return seems significant in many regards. After all, it is the company’s first real-time performance in over a year as well as the first outdoor gig in Nashville. It is also a chance to revisit two fascinating works instead of just one.


Anyhow, as for Nashville Ballet’s artistic director cum CEO Paul Vasterling, just the act of coming together as a group is what seems most momentous.


The studio has an incredible amount of energy, says Vasterling. He and his coworkers have a sense of gratitude in being able to work, gather safely, rehearse and produce again. Then, sharing it with a real-time audience again is amazing, says Vasterling. Describing Nashville Ballet’s dancers as an excited bunch of people, Vasterling said that they could not wait to perform.


They would get their opportunity when the ballet company performs a mixed repertory at the amphitheater. The so-called ‘mixed-rep’ performance would include the evocative show Seasons from Vasterling. The reimagined version of Seasons is part of this ballet company’s virtual series named ‘Attitude’. The show is inspired by the Max Richter recomposition of the musical work entitled Four Seasons, from Antonio Vivaldi.


Jennifer Archibald’s production named Posters is also in the offing. First performed last February for the ballet company’s ‘Attitude: Other Voices’, Posters features a real-time musical performance from the bands The Shindellas and Louis York. The famous author from Nashville, namely Caroline Randall Williams, would also contribute to the live production.


When Vasterling and his Nashville Ballet team had to close everything last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Vasterling was working on his Seasons show. As Vasterling recalls, he was videoing for Seasons back then, without knowing when he could come back to the studio for further work on the show. Therefore, he considers it to be an ideal way of opening the program at the amphitheater.


Nashville Ballet last performed Posters before a real-time audience, says Vasterling. Therefore, as for him, the fact that the team’s comeback is with it seems quite symbolic, too. Vasterling describes it as a powerful piece of work about gender identity, women, and stereotypes with a wonderful exchange between music, dance and poetry. Jennifer Archibald is a brilliant artist, says Vasterling while describing Louis York’s work as a combination of gospel, pop, jazz, and R&B. Vasterling also finds it thrilling to have Williams involved in the performance, and he expects it to become a special one.


Vasterling adapted Williams’ book entitled ‘Lucy Negro, Redux’ for the stage, and premiered it two years ago. So, as for Williams, Posters is a different form of collaboration.


The choreography for Vaterling’s adaptation was made in connection with Williams’ work. With Posters, on the other hand, Vasterling and his team’s work inspired Williams. She was writing, interacting with and responding to the choreography in their studio. So, she found it exciting to just be there and watch it all develop. Archibald is generous as a collaborator, according to Williams. That also explains why she finds the work they did for Posters to be different from any collaboration she has come across before.


Williams said that she enjoyed the artistic connection between the written words and movement, while describing it as being similar to learning a different language.


According to Williams, all forms of art tell a human tale. She realizes that those forms have a lot in common because she has worked in that space. A dancer’s leg or arm might go up just when she might use a line break to emphasize a particular emotion or state something important.


Williams is excited to visit Posters again after the period of isolation and divisive rhetoric over the pandemic year, and see how she feels about her words. Describing Posters as an inspiring piece of work, and an amazing one to work on, she expects it to stir up an emotion in the audience.