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

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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.”

“This piece of music has an epic quality to it, and it’s surprising that only three instruments can make such a huge impact,” Enos says. “The music inspired me to choreograph a dance for three couples that each represents one of the three instruments in the composition.”

Enos’s vision for his Emergence piece inspired Clay to create sculptural set pieces inspired by architectural elements, in warm organic tones as a juxtaposition to Puts’s dark score.

-  Paul Vasterling, with Watkins student Moses Williams and ALIAS’ Matt WalkerNashville Ballet artistic director and CEO Paul Vasterling collaborates with ALIAS’s Matt Walker to create a new choreographic work set to a commissioned, original musical composition titled “Arabian Blues” from Walker, which makes its world premiere at Emergence. Four ALIAS musicians will perform the work and will be incorporated into the dance performance, themselves. They are working closely with Watkins fine art student Moses Williams to incorporate elements of experimental video, light projection and set construction to engage the viewer in an experience associated with memory and relationship.

Emergence is all about welcoming the audience into the creative process,” Vasterling explains. “It’s all about letting the audience into your head and showing them what you’re thinking so you can get feedback and decide where you want to go next with your art. It also gives new choreographers an opportunity to formulate their own creative processes. There are very few schools for learning how to be a choreographer, so opportunities like this give new artists a chance to develop their craft.”

Emergence will be held at The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet for four performances: May 17 at 7:30 p.m.; May 18 at 7:30 p.m.; and May 19 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets to Emergence are general admission for $28. They can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at (615) 782-4040 or online at www.nashvilleballet.com. Season tickets for the upcoming 2012-2013 performance season will be on sale to the public June 1. Tickets to individual performances in the upcoming 2012-2013 performance season will be available July 2.

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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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