Nashville Ballet Receives NEA Grant to Support New Contemporary Dance Work


Nashville Ballet Receives NEA Grant to Support New Contemporary Dance Work

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced recently that Nashville Ballet is one of 832 non-profit organizations nationwide-and only one of two organizations in Tennessee-to receive an NEA Art Works grant.

Nashville Ballet is recommended for a $10,000 grant to support the creation of a new contemporary ballet choreographed by Gina Patterson and set to the music of local singer-songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones, set to premiere in February 2013.

"Because these awards are given based on our likelihood for success in the creation of a new work, this award is a strong vote of confidence from the NEA in the creative prowess and administrative capabilities of Nashville Ballet," says Paul Vasterling, Nashville Ballet's artistic director and CEO and a 2012 First Night Honoree. "This grant will allow us to offer Nashville a new choreographed work inspired by the sounds of Music City."

The yet-to-be named new work from Patterson and Jones will be performed during Nashville Ballet's performance of Attitude February 15-17, with an excerpt from the piece featured during Ballet Ball on February 1.

An original member of the collaborative group of individual artists, Ten out of Tenn, Jones is one of the most sought-after songwriters in Nashville, with music featured on TV series One Tree Hill, Bones and Grey's Anatomy. Jones' popularity has fueled the success of his literary-inspired album Land of the Living released in June 2012.

Jones will collaborate with frequent Nashville Ballet guest choreographer Gina Patterson to create an original dance work set mostly to music from Land of the Living and his break-out hit "Save You" from the 2008 album Swallow the Sea.

Patterson's credentials as a choreographer extend across the globe, including two recent collaborations with Nashville Ballet-Cryin' Out, set to the music of Gary Nicholson, and Anne Frank, part of the repertory of Outreach performances designed to expose young people to the art of ballet.

"I'm proud to announce these 832 grants to the American public, including this work from Nashville Ballet," Landesman said. "These projects offer extraordinary examples of creativity in our country, including the creation of new work, innovative ways of engaging audiences, and exemplary education programs."

In March 2012, the NEA received 1,509 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $74 million in funding. The 832 recommended NEA grants total $22.3 million, span 13 artistic disciplines and fields, and focus primarily on the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing works for the benefit of American audiences. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit. 

Pictured: Paul Vasterling

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.

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