Dance Review: Seven Deadly Sins

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Nashville Ballet raises the bar with one of the most amazing collaborative efforts this town has ever seen!

Nashville Ballet presents:
Seven Deadly Sins featuring Ten Out of Tenn (May 5 – 7, 2017; Ages 14 & older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 •
Remaining showtimes: Sat 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m.
Tickets: $28 – $89

Nashville Ballet delivers a solid example of collaborative performance art with the staging of its magnificently spellbinding world premiere of Seven Deadly Sins. It’s a joint effort of Nashville Ballet, Nashville Symphony and the Ten Out of Tenn musicians collective. Nashville Ballet’s commissioning of new music by Ten Out of Tenn for this production yields an invigorating, exciting result. It beautifully captures the evolving artistic landscape in Nashville while simultaneously raising the bar of entertainment excellence.

The exquisite evening of dance kicks off with Nashville Ballet Artistic Director/CEO Paul Vasterling’s abstract interpretation of Aaron Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring. The Nashville Symphony delivers a wonderful performance of Copland’s work, which many consider to be a slice of quintessential Americana. Nashville Ballet’s Katie Vasilopoulos leads the 30-minute performance featuring eight fellow company dancers. Together they beautifully move through themes of female power, community and acceptance. The latter pays a particular nod to the wonderful influence an outsider brings to a group.

Seven Deadly Sins follows a 20-minute intermission and sets a much different tone from Appalachian Spring. This compelling 40-minute performance is perhaps the most stunning Nashville Ballet production to date. A seasoned principal member of Nashville Ballet for 14 years, Christopher Stuart is the brainchild behind Seven Deadly Sins from concept to choreography.

The prelude finds Jon Upleger (Protaganist) and Mollie Sansone (Agatho) dancing around a few forthcoming temptations. Stuart and Scott Leathers’ impeccable approach to set design is simple yet powerful. A series of drapes adorn the back of the stage framing a giant set of double doors.

At the end of “Prelude,” the inevitable happens when Upleger crashes into the doors, a metaphor for the gateway to one’s soul. The doors open, releasing the seven worst offenders of the human existence — Pride, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust and Wrath. Each of these manifestations of self take their turn and come to life through Stuart’s compelling choreography, which the Nashville Ballet dancers execute in top-notch form.

What makes Seven Deadly Sins so mesmerizing is the original music written and performed by members Ten Out of Tenn — Amy Stroup, Butterfly Boucher, Erin McCarley, Gabe Dixon, Katie Herzig, K.S. Rhoads, Matthew Perryman Jones, Trent Dabbs and Will Sayles. Rhoads also scored the orchestrations for the Nashville Symphony. This amazing collaboration makes a powerful impact as each sin comes to the forefront with its own fitting song and style. Each of the cleverly penned tunes is a succinct musical representation of its related transgression, including “I Can’t Get Enough of Everything” (Gluttony), “All That I Want” (Lust) and “Like Thunder” (Wrath).

While the representation of each sin through song and dance is phenomenal, the undeniable standout performance is Sloth. Erin McCarley and K.S. Rhoads’ “I Feel It Too Much” provides the perfect musical backdrop with its dreamy, drowsy, lazy tempo and cadence. True to form, Kayla Rowser delivers a captivating performance with much fluidity and utmost style. This sophisticated dancer is Nashville Ballet’s shining gem.

While this powerful production of Seven Deadly Sins takes the audience on a vivid journey through humanity’s flaws, it also puts us on the path to atonement. After all the sinning is done, the full cast joins together for the stunning “Redemption” number. The finale magically represents the power of grace in a way that makes your soul feel purer than the sky behind the rain … and there’s some literal waterworks in the mix that will blow you away!

This is a Nashville Ballet production you must not miss.


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

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