Nashville Ballet Weaves A Tennessee Tapestry

By Blackburn, Shirley | Pointe, December/January 2005 | Go to article overview

Nashville Ballet Weaves A Tennessee Tapestry


Blackburn, Shirley, Pointe


Nashville Ballet Weaves A Tennessee Tapestry

Tennessee Tapestry, Nashville Ballet's season opener October 7, 2005, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, proved that Artistic Director Paul Vasterling has transformed Nashville from a tutu-ballet town into a sophisticated, multifaceted dance venue. His eye for raw talent and ability to cultivate young dancers have created a small company that tackles classical and avant-garde dance with equal aplomb.

The refined subtlety of George Balanchine's choreography has eluded this company in the past. But when the curtain rose on the late choreographer's Square Dance, the dancers showed their mettle. Their spacing, timing, alignment-even the little hip tilt-were on target. They seemed relaxed and playful.

Principals Christine Rennie and Eddie Mikrut gave dazzling performances. No missteps for these two. There was not a muffed beat, pirouette or lift, and their chemistry was palpable.

Vasterling restored the caller who had been used in the original New York City Ballet production of Square Dance. Brian Hull, clad in traditional Western wear, called the dances as if he were at a hoedown. In a mellow, singsong voice, he interjected funny lines that made the audience laugh and the dancers smile.

In his own Night of the Iguana, Vasterling merged dance, original music by Michael Alec Rose and a Tennessee Williams story to create a riveting tale of love, betrayal and despair. On a portico in steamy Mexico, Miss Edith Jelkes (Jennifer McNamara) is torn between a young writer (Jon Upleger) and an older one (Matthew Christensen). Six other dancers move on and off the stage throughout the piece, in between dramatic encounters. …

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