Nashville Ballet opens 2019-20 season with ‘Romeo & Juliet’

Company Dancer Mollie Sansone as Juliet

Company Dancer Mollie Sansone as Juliet. Courtesy of Nashville Ballet, photo by Marianne Leach

Nashville Ballet will open its performance season with the return of Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s Romeo & Juliet September 20-22 to tell the impassioned tale of a love so powerful not even life can contain it.

“There’s an inherent universality to Shakespeare’s writing that makes something like Romeo and Juliet feel relevant each time we present it,” Vasterling said. “The range of emotions explored in the storyline makes the work feel personal and accessible for each audience member, while also challenging our dancers to deepen their connection to the work.”

Vasterling conveys Shakespeare’s original storyline about the romance of these young, star-crossed lovers through passionate choreography, theatrical performances, and an emotionally-laden score from Sergei Prokofiev, performed live by the Nashville Symphony. By combining those elements with expansive sets, lush costumes, and exhilarating fight scenes, he fully transports the audience to fair Verona in this grand-scale production.

A fight scene in Nashville Ballet's Romeo and Juliet

A fight scene in Nashville Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet.

Created in 2004, and last presented by Nashville Ballet in 2013, Vasterling’s Romeo and Juliet draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Though the story takes place in Shakespeare’s time, and many elements of the costumes, sets, and choreography remain authentic to that period, Vasterling’s version also features modern influences from works like West Side Story and Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic 1968 film adaptation for a production that pays perfect homage to the Bard’s beautifully tragic love story.

Integral to the authenticity of the work, Nashville Ballet enlisted London-based fight director Tim Klotz to work alongside Vasterling to develop the choreography in the ballet’s highly-regarded fight scenes. Klotz’s extensive experience in stage combat instruction offers Company dancers guidance on making the ballet’s sword fighting appear lifelike and action-packed. What’s more, Klotz’s industry knowledge helped Vasterling create fight choreography that draws directly from the cape fighting styles traditional to the Shakespearean era, a quality unique to Nashville Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet adaptation. “This is a work filled with swagger [and] machismo…In fact, the production’s stylish and realistic sword fighting is part of the dance,” writer and arts critic John Pitcher expressed after seeing the production in 2013.

Escape to Verona in a whirlwind of forbidden passion and swoon-worthy romance. Tickets start at $35 and are available for purchase in person at the box office, by phone at 615-782-4040, or at

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