STAGE TUBE: Behind the Scenes of Nashville Ballet's EMERGENCE


What happens when you put a choreographer in the same room with visual artists and musicians and tell them to come up with “something original”? It remains to be seen, but those creative collaborations will be the focus of Nashville Ballet’s upcoming Emergence, presenTed May 17-19.

In collaboration with ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and Watkins College of Art, Design & FilmNashville Ballet presents Emergence—which heretofore was a biennial event, but this year debuts as an annual offering—a showcase of new and emerging talent across artistic genres including dance, music and visual art.

 “Interdisciplinary work—dance, music and art—represents some of the most exciting new thinking in today's visual and performing art worlds,” says Ellen L. Meyer, president of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. “Collaboration across disciplines enables a sum that is truly greater than the parts. Watkins is proud to participate in this total artistic immersion.”

Emergence becomes an annual performance event this year at the intimate studio theater of The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet, and willfeature four short original pieces set to live music with visual and interactive elements, creating a live, performance art gallery for audience members.

"What ALIAS does in presenting chamber music – the innovation in programming and the interaction with the audience – fits perfectly with the goal of Emergence to bring the audience in as part of artistic collaborations,” explains ALIAS artistic director Zeneba Bowers.

On the program:

-  Kelsey Bartman, with Watkins student Kellie Taylor: Former Nashville Ballet apprentice and current associate artistic director and dancer at Pittsburgh’s Texture Contemporary Ballet, Kelsey Bartman choreographs a piece to the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber titled “Sonata Representativa.”

Bartman collaborates with Watkins student Kellie Taylor, a fine art major, to create a choreographed work inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Southern gothic short story The Yellow Wallpaper. Bartman and Taylor combine contemporary dance and modern technology to interpret the main character’s psychological transformation and descent into madness.

-  Christopher Stuart, with Watkins student Robert Grand: A company dancer  and emerging star with Nashville Ballet, Christopher Stuart collaborates with Watkins photography student Robert Grand to create an original performance set to “American Dreams” by Peter Schickele, with its Americana, folk feel.

“As a performer, I’ve always loved improvising and exploring different forms of movement,” Stuart says. “I’m always willing to try something new—that inhibition itself has inspired me to create a piece the represents how we can become trapped by what we do every day and how we sometimes have to struggle to escape from our own boxes.”

Grand will produce a video projection reflecting Stuart’s theme of breaking free from boxes. Using distorted clips, he explores the boundary of the pixel—the inherent building block of a digital image.

-  Brian Enos, with Watkins student Jessica Clay: Named “Best Up and Coming Choreographer” by the Houston PressBrian Enos collaborates with Watkins fine art student Jessica Clay to create an original choreographed work to a piece of music composed by recent Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Puts titled “And Legions Will Rise.”

STAGE TUBE: Behind the Scenes of Nashville Ballet's EMERGENCE
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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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