*Also read the review at braodwayworld.com
With the success of last season’s critically-acclaimed production, Lucy Negro Redux, in mind, Nashville Ballet’s annual February series continues the trend of using the artform to address relevant social and cultural topics. Other Voices, this year’s Attitude production, will premiere four new works exploring the topic of gender identity from a few of the world’s hottest current choreographers—Jennifer Archibald, Erin Kouwe, Matthew Neenan, and Carlos Pons Guerra.
National Geographic’s The Gender Issue, published in January 2017, led Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling to present choreographers with a set of four questions—what does it mean to be a man, what does it mean to be a woman, what does it mean to be both, and what does it mean to be neither—upon which their works are inspired. Each choreographer was encouraged to interpret the questions and expand upon them as they liked.
“In mainstream media we’re seeing similar stories being told and retold; we’ve had the same perspectives and experiences brought to life through every artistic medium possible for so long, and while those perspectives are important, they’re not the only voices or perspectives that we need to hear from or see on stage in order to progress as a community and grow as individuals,” said Vasterling. “Each choreographer has spent over a year reflecting on the four questions I posed, and each one brings aspects of their individual identities—gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, life experiences—into their work to share new perspectives; they’re telling stories less likely to be told.”
Indicative of the organization’s commitment to elevating new perspectives and creating new work, Nashville Ballet has also selected local musical duo Louis York and composer Cristina Spinei to create original compositions for Other Voices. Vasterling provided the musicians with the same set of thought-provoking questions to inform their compositions, as well as subsequent personal conversations with the choreographers. Louis York’s music will be paired with Archibald’s, Kouwe’s, and Pons Guerra’s pieces, while Neenan’s ballet will be danced to a score by Spinei. What’s more, author Caroline Randall Williams returns to collaborate with Nashville Ballet, opening and closing Archibald’s work with original poetry inspired by Other Voices and Randall Williams’s own reflections on gender identity.
Other Voices will premiere at TPAC’s Polk Theater Friday, Feb. 14 through Sunday, Feb. 16. For more information on tickets and scheduling, please visit nashvilleballet.com/attitude-2020.
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 to 70. To learn more about the 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 programs.