Audience Receives First Look at New Works and Opportunity to Interact with Artists

Nashville Ballet will close its 2016-2017 performance season with its popular experimental ballet series Emergence June 1-3, 2017, at Nashville Ballet’s Studio A. This season’s edition will feature the debut of three all-new Nashville Ballet collaborations only weeks in the making and the opportunity to interact with the artists to learn about the creative process.

Emergence was introduced to give artists the opportunity to create with less pressure and expectations,” Paul Vasterling, Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO, said. “When curating the lineup, I look specifically for choreographers and musicians of different genres of movement and sound that can challenge how we think about ballet.”

School of Nashville Ballet faculty member Shabaz Ujima will choreograph to new Indian-influenced music by percussionist Kirby Shelstad accompanied by a sitar player. Ujima began studying at School of Nashville Ballet in the ‘90s, and his training includes Nashville Ballet’s second company before enjoying a successful career in contemporary dance with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Upon his professional retirement in 2014, he returned to School of Nashville Ballet where he currently teaches modern and contemporary dance. Shelstad majored in percussion performance, theory and composition at the University of Minnesota. Since his move to Nashville in 1979, he has become known as a dynamic performer with diverse musical capabilities in rock, jazz, blues, classical and world music.

Jennifer Archibald will present original choreography set to a new composition by classical composer Cristina Spinei. Archibald is the founder and Artistic Director of the Arch Dance Company and Program Director of ArchCore40 dance intensives. She is a graduate of The Alvin Ailey School and the Maggie Flanigan Acting Conservatory, and she was recently appointed as the first female resident choreographer in Cincinnati Ballet’s 40-year history. She has choreographed for Atlanta Ballet, Ailey II, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet II and worked commercially for Tommy Hilfiger, NIKE and MAC Cosmetics. Spinei graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School. Spinei will be joined by a violinist, cellist and electric bass player for this performance.

Choreographer Susan Shields will team up with Nashville-based soul and R&B artist Jonny P. Shields has been commissioned by numerous ballet companies throughout the country, including Ballet West, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Richmond Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Washington Ballet and Boston Ballet II. She was a member of Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and an eight-year member of the Lar Lubivitch Dance Company, where she danced principal roles. She has also performed with Mark Morris Dance Group, Eliot Feld and The Washington Ballet. Jonny P’s tunes are rooted in the sounds of the past but anchored firmly and irrevocably in the present, defined by disarmingly direct arrangements, a superlatively smooth vocal style and an undying belief in the power of soul. He will perform Stand By, Good To You, Book and Drive, three of which are off the EP Good To You released April 21, 2017.

“Ironically, since ballet venerates the female form, there is a shortage of female choreographers in the ballet world,” Vasterling said. “I made a concerted effort to bring female choreographers into Emergence this season to provide an opportunity to showcase their unique voice.”

In addition to watching new art unfold in Nashville Ballet’s intimate studio space, audience members will have the opportunity to engage with the artists in a casual environment. Attendees will be able to speak with the choreographers, musicians and dancers about the creative process and provide feedback during an artist salon at each performance.

Emergence is presented with support from @NashvilleTenn. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by phone at (615) 782-4040 or at A complete performance schedule and more information can be found online.

About Nashville Ballet
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 & CEO Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the second company, NB2 (a pre-professional training company), provide more than 75,000 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 Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional private support provided by Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, Caterpillar Financial, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, The HCA Foundation, Ingram Charitable Fund, Inc., The Mall at Green Hills, The Memorial Foundation, New York Choreographic Institute, Publix Super Market Charities, The Shubert Foundation, SunTrust Bank, other community partners and hundreds of generous individuals who provide ongoing annual support.

# # #

AuthorNashville Ballet