Transcending into mutual eye contact with dancers from the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee is within blissful reach during the month fueled by thankfulness.
Nashville Ballet company members welcome audiences into their personal space for a one-of-a-kind immersive dance experience with "Live in Studio A," Nov. 4-13 at the Martin Center for Nashville Ballet. This intimate approach to performing gives audiences the rare opportunity to see three stunning ballets and a live chamber ensemble from the coveted vantage point usually only enjoyed by artistic staffers or cast members.
“This is really a unique opportunity for audiences to see the artistry and athleticism of dance up-close,” shares Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. “With Live in Studio A, every person is seated only a few feet away from the dancers, allowing them to absorb movement in a way that just isn’t possible outside of the studio. It’s truly a magical experience between audience member and artist, and our dancers can’t wait to share that with our community.”
Live in Studio A will showcase the budding talent of the organization’s artists with both new and world-class works. The program will include George Balanchine’s balletic masterpiece, The Four Temperaments. Both technically challenging and aesthetically riveting, The Four Temperaments blends both classical and modern movement to examine the medieval theory that all humans possess four humors that makeup temperaments.
The production also will include the return of Artistic Director Paul’s beloved Seasons, featuring the music of Antonio Vivaldi recomposed by Max Richter, as well as the world premiere of CEO and Associate Artistic Director Nick Mullikin’s Four Loves. Nick verifies that the premise of Four Loves is derived from a Japanese folk tale he read, and will move the audience through a story of how the main character is shaped by how life runs its course, molding her into who she becomes.
"I believe our program will demonstrate how versatile our artists are, and may change the audience's minds about how the language of ballet can be turned into something provocative and how deep the sense of personal connections are while performing," explains Nick, who also teaches regularly at summer programs, festivals and schools across the United States.
He says this event demonstrates how the art is made. "In many ways, it takes ballet from a two-dimensional perspective into a three-dimensional, eyewitness experience. They aren't just athletes, and you'll get to see they are physical actors who are syncing their timing. You're hearing, seeing and sensing their emotions in a visceral way."
Nick shares a few, new observations that he believes audience members will learn from this immersive performance:
- People have no idea ballet dancers work as hard as they do to make it look so easy.
- Audiences will be close enough to see the sweat on the dancers' faces, and likely will feel as though they feel what the dancers are feeling. (They will be sitting 25 to 50 feet away from the dancers rather than 500 feet.)
- With 25 dancers on the stage, audiences will see what looks symmetrical, along with how precision takes shape and what the choreographer meant it to look like.
- They will see patterns in overall movement.
- Audiences will grasp what it takes to dance on pointe, and will get to witness three different styles of dance along with what it's like to use each millimeter of ballet shoes for various executions.
- The hope is that everyone will appreciate the opportunity to see dance details from this different microscopic viewpoint.
Throughout Nick's time with the company, he's helped grow the School of Nashville Ballet, which serves more than 1,800 students annually. He has commissioned 20-plus new works for NB2, Nashville Ballet’s second company, with a focus on developing artistry and techniques side-by-side. He was the producer and assistant to the director on the regional Emmy award-winning Nashville's Nutcracker in 2020, as well as the Lucy Negro Redux performance production aired on PBS.
Nick's choreography also premiered at the Collage Dance Collective's grand opening in Memphis and at the Belmont Fisher Performing Arts Center. Nick was named to succeed Paul as artistic director and CEO when Paul retires in June 2023.
"This type of performance changes the way we look at dancers and how they can utilize space within spaces. They can engage in full performance, and receive our immediate feedback from right in front of them, rather than us all being focused on playing to the back of the room. It allows the audience to truly understand how technically demanding ballet is, and how our troupe works both as individuals and as a unit together," says Nick. "It's an example of what more they can do, and makes me even more proud of stepping into the artistic director role."
Seasons and Four Loves will be accompanied by a live chamber orchestra, featuring international violin sensation and award-winning instrumentalist Yvette Kraft. A 2021 NPR “From The Top” Fellow and solo performer, Yvette made her professional debut at just 11 years old with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she's played with several renowned companies, including the Interlochen Orchestra, Washington Idaho Symphony, Seattle’s Philharmonic Northwest Orchestra, and the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra.
Single tickets are $70 each. To reserve seats for groups of 10 or more, call 615.297.2966, extension 710, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.