Ballet’s Winter Series Heats up the Stage, Feb. 11 – 13

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Nashville Ballet presents:

Director’s Choice: Winter Repertoire Program (Ages 14 and older)
TPAC’s Polk Theater
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 or nashvilleballet.com
Remaining Show Times: Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m.
Tickets: $23 – $82

Nashville Ballet’s 25th anniversary season continues to shine with Director’s Choice: Winter Repertoire Program. Comprising a mix of three distinctly different dance styles in the modern vein, this production is not one for younger kids in your family; it’s best suited for ages 14 and older.  Better yet, it makes for a great date night with your honey on this weekend preceding Valentine’s Day!

“The Story Teller” kicks off the evening. Interestingly, Nashville Ballet’s production marks the inaugural performance or this work in the United States, and it is also the first time it has been performed since its 1997 debut with the Australian Ballet. Twyla Tharp’s choreography is evident throughout this installment. If you’re a Tharp fan, you’re sure to enjoy experiencing the North American premiere of this example of her dance style. I will readily admit that I’m not a huge fan of Tharp’s technique, and this particular element of the evening did not personally resonate with me.  However, I do appreciate the fact that Artistic Director Paul Vasterling consistently presents an eclectic mix of offerings to his Nashville audience.  Further, the beauty of the arts, and especially with dance, is the reality and magic of interpretation by the viewer. What might not move one person emotionally may very well move an internal mountain for another.

The second segment prior to intermission is my favorite in the mix, “Satto.” The presentation of the brilliant Salvatore Aiello’s choreography is top notch as Jon Upleger and Mollie Sansone deliver it. Their interpretive dance is sensual and seductive, representing the sheer beauty of what can happen amidst the wind (Upleger) and a leaf (Sansone). Both of these extremely talented dancers are commanding on stage with much strength and control physically, and Sansone particularly is amazing as she exudes a breathtaking amount of hypnotic fluidity in her movements. She is FIERCE in her presentation, executing one of the most awe-inspiring, heart-warming moments ever seen on the Nashville Ballet stage. She truly dances through her fingers. Her performance alone is well worth the cost of admission.

The final sequence, after a 20-minute intermission, is “Postcards from the Boys,” reprised from 2005 when Nashville Ballet originally commissioned and performed this work. This is a fantastic interpretation of seven different stories, all penned by legendary Nashville songwriters Guy Clark and Darrell Scott.  Sarah Slipper choreographed this set, and it is hugely intriguing to experience her interpretation of the chosen songs. This set features a full band, including a few Nashville staples like Shawn Camp (guitar and vocals), guitarist extraordinaire John Mock and drummer Kenny Malone, along with six other wonderful musicians providing a lush musical backdrop for the dancers.

Each song and its accompanying dance tells its own story. “Homeless” is by far the most poignant, and Andrea Vierra perfectly exemplifies the quest of one who is down and out, trying to crawl out of a hole (in this case on stage, up a moving wall). Slipper’s talent as choreographer truly shines in this number. It is striking and succinctly captures the mood of the song.

Again, while this particular production isn’t kid-friendly considering the littlest ones in your brood, it does serve as a good reason to ring up that babysitter! And don’t fret! If you’re wanting to take your small fries to a dance production this weekend, Nashville Ballet has not forsaken you. The company is serving up its rendition of “Peter and the Wolf” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, geared toward your youngest ones.  Whatever your choice, you will surely be delighted!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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