Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling has been selected as one of the Fellows in residence for the 2017-2018 academic year at The Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA) at New York University, the first international institute devoted to the creation and academic study of ballet.
Entering its fourth year, the CBA Fellows program invites scholars and artists from the field of ballet and its related arts and sciences to work at the Center on their own scholarly and artistic projects. The program provides fellows with a stipend, access to studio and office space, an apartment in some cases and time away from daily life to focus on their specified project—a ballet, book, film, digital lecture series or other work of their imagining related in some way to ballet. It exists to inspire new ideas and ballets, to expand the understanding of ballet and to bring new vitality to its history, practice and performance in the 21st century.
During his fellowship at CBA, Vasterling will research the progression and evolution of narrative in ballet over time and work with a filmmaker to experiment with different avenues for telling stories in ballet. Both components will inform the ultimate work—creating new narrative ballets. Vasterling will delve into a new ballet based on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, exploring the relevant dialogue about gender roles and the time periods through which the work travels. Vasterling also hopes to explore Caroline Randall Williams’ Lucy Negro, Redux through dance, which is based upon Shakespeare’s Dark Lady sonnets and juxtaposes a mixed-race relationship in two radically different time periods.
“When I begin choreography for a new ballet, I always start with extensive research—what life was like, what the writer was thinking at the time, everything—so I can find the feeling within the piece,” Vasterling said. “Choreography is all about being human, so doing the research is key to allowing it to develop in an authentic way. Having this opportunity at CBA allows time for undistracted exploration and creativity without the everyday deadlines and projects I juggle as Artistic Director & CEO.”
Vasterling will complete his six-week fellowship from July 10 - August 21, 2017. He was selected as one of the 19 new artists and scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year. The group features distinguished individuals in a range of disciplines, including choreographer Annie-B Parson, scholar Christopher Wood, journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, and designers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung. Previous fellows have included documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, musician Suzanne Vega, MacArthur Award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist and choreographer Jonah Bokaer.
Vasterling became Artistic Director of Nashville Ballet in 1998, 10 years after joining the company as a dancer. In 2010, he was promoted to CEO. A choreographer with a deep affinity for music and a love of storytelling, Vasterling has created more than 40 works, ranging from classical, full-length story ballets to contemporary one-acts set to music by internationally renowned composers and songwriters.
A magna cum laude graduate of Loyola University, Vasterling was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship enabling him to work extensively in South America, paving the way for a Nashville Ballet tour there. His ballets have also been performed internationally in Asia as well as across the U.S. to great acclaim. Most recently, Vasterling’s work made its debut appearance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in April 2017. Under his leadership, Nashville Ballet has transformed from a troupe of 12 professional dancers into a company of 24 with a second company of 25 dancers.
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.
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