From alt-rock to orchestra, Ben Folds’s musical career is nothing short of impressive making Nashville Ballet pleased to join him back on stage with the triumphant homecoming of Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s The Ben Folds Project: Concerto at TPAC’s Jackson Hall, April 26-28.
Folds will join Nashville Ballet’s company on stage for three performances in which Vasterling’s masterful choreography is set to a 21-minute, three-movement piano concerto composed by Folds and commissioned by Nashville Ballet. Since premiering in 2014, Nashville Ballet has taken The Ben Folds Project to Washington, D.C. for the company’s Kennedy Center debut in 2017 and to the Chautauqua Institution in 2018; Folds has performed the concerto numerous times with major symphony orchestras across the country. This performance will mark the first time Nashville Ballet and Folds reunite to bring the unique work back to Music City.
Folds joins Nashville Ballet in April as part of the organization’s Modern Masters series highlighting the evolution and scope of ballet. The works selected for this series illustrate the ways in which the artform has transformed in the 20th and 21st centuries by showcasing works from neoclassical and contemporary choreographers that have helped to challenge and expand ballet’s boundaries through big ideas and intriguing collaborations. The Ben Folds Project is accompanied by three additional masterworks – Duo Concertant, The Lottery and Bloom.
In Duo Concertant, George Balanchine celebrates the Stravinsky piece to which the work is set in a surprising way. In the first movement, the dancers join the musicians simply to listen. As the next three movements are played, an animated dance ensues followed by the final movement in which the stage is darkened and the couple dance in individual circles of light resulting in a mesmerizing finale.
Well-received upon its debut during Paul Vasterling’s 20th Anniversary Gala Performance in December, the central pas of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Bloom returns to captivate yet again. The work, set on Ballet Manila, was Lopez Ochoa’s first for an Asian dance company. As a result, Lopez Ochoa uses movements and gestures reflective of Asian culture within the choreography. Inspired by a Balinese ritual, Bloom depicts a floral offering in which the male dancer represents gratitude and the female dancer represents the flower.
Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery makes its Nashville premiere during the program. Based on the short story by Shirley Jackson, Caniparoli’s choreography tells the thrilling tale of a dystopian society on the day of its annual lottery. Unfortunately, this is one lottery no one wants to win – the drawing will determine one townsperson to stone to death as a sacrifice. Captivated audiences wait on edge as the story unfolds leading to an actual lottery live on stage to determine the ballet’s final soloist. This theatrical retelling of a literary great challenges artists and excites viewers in a performance that will never be the same twice.
The Lottery is based on Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” and is presented by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson and literary media.
Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the second company, NB2 (a pre-professional training company), provide more than 55,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through season performances and its Community Engagement programming. Curriculum-based Community Engagement programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries and public elementary, middle and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet brings world-class dance instruction to students age 2 to 70.
Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.