What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be both? What does it mean to be neither?
These were the four questions Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling presented to four acclaimed, up-and-coming choreographers for the organization’s annual February ‘Attitude’ series.
This year’s production, which premieres at TPAC’s Polk Theater Feb. 14-16, continues the trend of using the artform of dance to address relevant social and cultural topics by exploring the topic of gender identity.
With the success of last season’s critically-acclaimed production, Lucy Negro Redux, in mind, Other Voices will premiere four new works by choreographers Jennifer Archibald, Erin Kouwe, Matthew Neenan and Carlos Pons Guerra.
According to Vasterling, each choreographer was encouraged to interpret the questions he posed and expand upon them as they wished.
“Each choreographer has spent over a year reflecting on the four questions I posed,” Vasterling says. “Each one brings aspects of their individual identities-gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, life experiences-into their work to share new perspectives; they’re telling stories less likely to be told.”
Vasterling was inspired to create this reflective series after seeing and being affected by National Geographic‘s Gender Issue, which was published in January 2017.
“In mainstream media, we’re seeing similar stories being told and retold,” Vasterling continues.
“We’ve had the same perspectives and experiences brought to life through every artistic medium possible for so long, and while those perspectives are important, they’re not the only voices or perspectives that we need to hear from or see on stage in order to progress as a community and grow as individuals.”
Indicative of the organization’s commitment to elevating new perspectives and creating new work, Nashville Ballet has also selected local musical duo Louis York and composer Cristina Spinei to create original compositions for Other Voices.
Vasterling provided the musicians with the same set of thought-provoking questions to inform their compositions, as well as subsequent personal conversations with the choreographers.
Louis York’s music will be paired with Archibald’s, Kouwe’s, and Pons Guerra’s pieces, while Neenan’s ballet will be danced to a score by Spinei.
What’s more, author Caroline Randall Williams returns to collaborate with Nashville Ballet, opening and closing Archibald’s work with original poetry inspired by Other Voices and Randall Williams’s own reflections on gender identity.
Other Voices will premiere at TPAC’s Polk Theater Friday, February 14 through Sunday, February 16.
To reserve seats for groups of 10 or more, contact the Nashville Ballet Box Office at 615-297-2966 x710.