Dance Review: Emergence

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Nashville Ballet presents "Emergence" as the final show in its 2014-15 season.

Nashville Ballet presents:
Emergence (May 14 – 16; All ages)
The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet
3630 Redmon St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • nashvilleballet.com
Showtimes: Thu – Fri 7:30 p.m., Sat 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28 in advance, $35 day of show

Nashville Ballet wraps up its magnificent 2014-2015 season in its beautiful new studio space at The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet — a Free Family Grand Opening Celebration for the community is set for Saturday, May 30 featuring facility tours, trial classes, kids’ activities and more! — with the return of its fantastic Emergence series.

Emergence comprises four original works, and the intimate setting of The Martin Center provides the perfect stage giving the audience an up-close modern dance experience. We sat in on Wednesday night’s final dress rehearsal which included the three works featuring Nashville Ballet dancers. A four-minute opening piece, “Trapped,” features the Belmont Dance Company during Thu – Sat shows.

Each of the three Nashville Ballet installments includes live musical performances which accompany the talented dancers. Kicking things off is “State of Grace” with company members Julia Eisen, Owen Thorne and Brett Sjoblorn. With choreography by Paul Vasterling and John Hoomes, this 15-minute thought-provoking work finds Nashville Opera Chamber Ensemble members Hanna Brammer (soprano) and Patrick Waller (tenor) sharing the stage with the dancers performing three selections from Myths and Hymns and Floyd Collins.

The second performance, “Earth,” includes the return of singer/songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones providing the musical backdrop for the dancers (he did the music for Nashville Ballet’s Attitude this past February). This 25-minute work is a standout experience melding the trance-like and sometimes haunting music with an emotionally powerful dance performance by nine of Nashville Ballet’s seasoned members: Jon Upleger, Kristin Young, Gerald Watson, Judson Veach, Katie Vasilopoulos, Katie Eliason, Keenan McLaren, Alexandra Meister and Kayla Rowser. This piece invokes a wide range of emotional experiences. Of this particular work, guest choreographer Gina Patterson says it best: “The spirit of Emergence is about digging deeper and stepping outside of your comfort zone to create an honest, unfiltered piece.”

The final installment, “Genesing,” is a real treat featuring 16 members of the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers. In fact this production marks one of the Singers’ first collaborations with an outside organization, and their performance is outstanding as they deliver three spiritual numbers a cappella — “Soon-ah Will Be Done,” “There is a Balm in Gilead” and “I’m Gonna Sing ‘Til the Spirit Moves in My Heart.” Nashville Ballet company dancer Christopher Stuart choreographs this heartfelt, 13-minute piece featuring a few of the company’s most renowned cast, including Sadie Bo Sommer, Augusto Cezar, Mollie Sansone, Damian Drake, Sarah Cordia, Nathan Young and Daniella Zlatarev.

While all three works are distinct in their uniqueness, collectively they flow well together, and it’s great to see Nashville Ballet present original work with a contemporary styling. It’s a sure-fire treat for your family. Kids will particularly enjoy the up-close feel.

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Nashville Ballet’s “Clowns and Others.”

And speaking of kids, in addition to this weekend’s run of Emergence, Nashville Ballet also offers a show specific to children. Your family can also experience Clowns and Others Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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

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