Artistic Director & CEO
Paul Vasterling stepped into the role of Artistic Director of Nashville Ballet in 1998, ten years after he began his association with the company. He came as a company dancer and later served as a teacher, ballet master and choreographer. After several years of artistic turnover at the company, Vasterling applied for the job, a position he has held ever since. In the spring of 2010, at the Board's request, Vasterling took on the additional role of CEO for the ballet.
A choreographer with a deep affinity for music, Vasterling has created more than 40 works, ranging from classical, full-length story ballets to more contemporary one-acts set to the music of local artists. Vasterling's penchant and particular gift is for storytelling, which he has done vividly in such ballets as Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, and, most recently, A Midsummer Night's Dream. His ballets have been performed from South America to Asia, everywhere to great acclaim. Stateside, reviews have been equally glowing, with New York magazine Attitude writing of his work, "America has not lost its sense of value of elegant dancing as art." Beyond his own choreography, Vasterling has edited and updated classic productions of Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, and has expanded the company's repertoire to include works by Salvatore Aiello, George Balanchine, James Canfield, Lew Christensen, Jirí Kylián, Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon, among many others. He has also encouraged company dancers who have shown an interest in choreography, giving them the same opportunity to create that he received from artistic directors.
In 2004, Vasterling received a Fulbright Scholarship that enabled him to work with three different companies in Argentina, paving the way for Nashville Ballet's tour there a year later. In 2008, Vasterling raised the curtain on Nashville's Nutcracker, making a holiday tradition local and newly relevant. His 2009 premiere of Carmina Burana, a ballet he had long wanted to present, was a huge success with critics and audiences alike. Critic Pamela Gaye noted in her review for Ballet.co.uk, "Choreographically,Carmina Burana challenges dancers... because of the call to intensify the dance and render it equal in power to the music. Few choreographers have been able to achieve this momentum, and it is at this task that Vasterling excelled."
A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Loyola University, Vasterling has set a new standard for arts development. Under his leadership, the company's resources have grown by close to 300 percent and Nashville Ballet became the first local performing arts organization to purchase its own building. He has transformed a troupe of 12 professional dancers into a company of 22, and his commitment to developing the dancers of tomorrow inspired him to establish a second pre-professional company of 25 dancers. Vasterling has shaped Nashville Ballet into a company high on artistry and dramatic power as well as commanding technical ability and virtuosity.
Chief Operating Officer
Lisa Dixon French
Lisa Dixon French recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee following a successful tenure as Executive Director of the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra. While in Portland, Lisa led a highly inclusive strategic planning process that focused the organization on service to the community by enriching lives through music. Lisa also strengthened the orchestra’s financial stability, with increased contributed and earned income, increased endowment funds, and five years of balanced operating budgets that grew from $2.5 million to $3.3 million from 2010-2015.
Originally from Edina, Minnesota, Lisa went to Portland from her role as the Chief Operating Officer of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Lisa is also a graduate of an executive level orchestra leadership program through the League of American Orchestras. This intensive one‐year fellowship program included residencies with the Boston Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and the Aspen Music Festival and School. Lisa graduated from the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) in clarinet performance and music education, and received an Arts Leadership Program Certificate. Lisa has also served on the Board of the Maine Association of Nonprofits and the Board of Visitors for the University of Southern Maine.
Director of Artistic Operations
Sharyn Mahoney joined Nashville Ballet as a company dancer in 1989. Since her retirement from performing, she has continued to work with the organization as School of Nashville Ballet faculty, Artistic Associate, Director of Education and Outreach, Ballet Master and currently, Director of Artistic Operations. During her nine years as Director of Education and Outreach, Ms. Mahoney worked closely with Artistic Director Paul Vasterling to develop and fine tune NB2, Nashville Ballet’s official second company. While in that same position, she initiated the ballet’s educational outreach program which proudly reaches 40,000 children and families each year.
Appointed to Ballet Master in 1998, Ms. Mahoney returned to the studio full time to lend her talents to staging and rehearsing the company’s ballets. She continues to oversee the dancers of NB2’s Performance Division and all Nashville Ballet youth casts. In 2010 Mr. Vasterling charged her with creating a program that concentrated on strengthening and preparing dancers over 18 for a professional career. The Training Division of NB2 was launched in the fall of 2010 with the focus of giving dancers the tools to become healthier and stronger artists.
As Director of Artistic Operations, she works closely with Mr. Vasterling to supervise the company’s artistic endeavors and conducts auditions and guest teaching across the country. She has also staged Mr. Vasterling’s ballets on other companies in the United States and Argentina.
Ms. Mahoney has previously served on the board of Book ‘Em, a children’s literacy organization, and she continues to adjudicate dance grants for the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Timothy Rinehart Yeager
A native of Washington, Pa., Yeager received his dance training at Sally Miller Dance, Third Street Music School Settlement, Syracuse University and North Carolina School of the Arts. Mr. Yeager spent 10 seasons with the North Carolina Dance theatre where he achieved the rank of principal artist.
While there he starred in ballets by Salvatore Aiello, Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Agnes De Mille, David Parsons, Peter Pucci and Paul Taylor, among others. He has also performed as a guest artist with The Dancers Ensemble, Chautauqua Ballet Company and Tampa Ballet.
Mr. Yeager has taught master classes and led intensive arts residencies throughout the eastern United States, and before joining the staff of Nashville Ballet in 2001, served as the Ballet Master with the Moving Poets Theatre of Dance in Charlotte, N.C. From 2003 to 2010, he was also Ballet Master for Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, a summer season company located in Asheville, N.C.
Mr. Yeager has the honor of being a repetiteur of the Salvatore Aiello Trust and has been staging Aiello’s ballets since 1996.
Originally from Virginia, Allison Zamorski began her formal dance training with the Virginia Ballet Theatre. She was an honors graduate from the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts High School Dance Program, majoring in both ballet and modern dance. In 1999, after being awarded a scholarship with School of Nashville ballet, Allison relocated to Nashville to train under the direction of Adam Sage. She danced in NB2, Nashville Ballet’s second company, developing her skills as an apprentice, and was promoted to full company member in 2002 under Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Allison danced professionally with Nashville Ballet for four years and had multiple ballets set on her including Vasterling’s Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
After retiring as a dancer in 2006, Allison continued her expression of dance as a faculty member with School of Nashville Ballet, teaching a variety of dance classes to children and adults including ballet, pointe, modern, character, improvisation and repertory. She has worked extensively with the Education and Outreach Department, exposing approximately 30,000 Middle Tennessee residents to the art of dance.
Now, as Ballet Master with Nashville Ballet, Allison assists in the staging and rehearsals of various main company performances. She also oversees all youth casts in Nashville Ballet productions. Also, Allison has the distinct honor of being entrusted to set the works of Paul Vasterling in Nashville, throughout the country and internationally.
Outside of Nashville Ballet, Allison has attended the Regional and National High School Dance Festivals to teach master classes and act as adjudicator multiple times.
Associate Ballet Master
Denise Eason returned to Nashville after a 20-year residency in Hartford, Conn. where she was with the Hartford Ballet and, after retirement, an adjunct professor of dance at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Mrs. Eason was a Nashville Ballet company dancer from 1989-1994, and she returned to Nashville Ballet in 2016 as a company teacher, coach and faculty member. Mrs. Eason moved to Connecticut to join the Hartford Ballet in 1994 under the direction of Kirk Peterson where she danced many principal and soloist roles by George Balanchine, Choo-San Goh and Peterson, to name a few. Among her favorites were Tall Girl Principal in Balanchine’s Rubies, Sanguinic and Choleric in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Third Movement Principal Girl in Choo-San Goh’s In the Glow of the Night, Myrtha in Peterson’s Giselle, and Sugar Plum and Snow Queen in Peterson’s American Nutcracker. Prior to joining the Hartford Ballet, she danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Chautauqua Festival Company, Michigan Opera and Septime Webre Dance. Mrs. Eason has been a faculty member of academies affiliated with professional ballet companies, and she brings with her a career of more than 30 years of professional ballet and teaching experience.
Principal Guest Conductor
Nathan Fifield is a regular guest conductor at top ballet companies including San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He is currently the principle conductor of the Tulsa Ballet. He recently conducted John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid with San Francisco Ballet and premiered the joint San Francisco Ballet/Pacific Northwest Ballet revival of Balanchine’s classic Coppélia. Mr. Fifield made his European debut with Opera de Bordeaux’s Sleeping Beauty, and has lead both Tulsa Ballet and Nashville Ballet in new productions of Rite of Spring. Equally at home in the opera world, Mr. Fifield is also currently the music director of Light Opera of Oklahoma. He has led many productions including Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, West Side Story and Into the Woods, and has worked with such companies as Utah Festival Opera, Opera in the Heights and Chelsea Opera. His teachers and mentors include Michael Tilson Thomas, David Hayes and Gustav Meier.
School of Nashville Ballet
Director of the School of Nashville Ballet
(615) 297-2966 x910
Nick Mullikin began his training at the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble in Madison, Wisconsin under the direction of JoJean Retrum. He continued at the Virginia School of the Arts, and Houston Ballet Academy, training with Petrus Bosman, David Keener, Steve Brule, Clara Cravey, and Claudio Munoz. Upon his completion of training with Houston Ballet Academy, he was invited to join Houston Ballet with Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, and subsequently joined Ballet West under the direction of Jonas Kage. During that time he performed works by William Forsythe, George Balanchine, Ben Stevenson, Anthony Tudor, Bruce Marks, David Parsons, Ronald Hynd, Dominic Walsh, Timothy O’Keefe, Glen Tetley, and Trey McIntyre. He has toured nationally and internationally including at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2004 as well as performing as a guest artist for Ballet Arizona, and regional companies throughout the country.
During his time at Ballet West, as an artist, he was an elected union representative for the American Guild of Musical Artists before joining the administrative staff as the Company/Tour Manager & Assistant to the Artistic Director in 2006. In addition, to handling all collective bargaining, and regional touring for the company, he oversaw and managed the company’s return to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as part of the inaugural Ballet Across America series.
Since that time he has worked as Company Manager for The Washington Ballet and as assistant manager at the Dance Institute in Austin, Texas. Mr. Mullikin has guest taught at summer programs and schools across the country, coached students for competition at the Youth America Grand Prix, taught in after school programs in the Washington D.C. area, and consulted on the creation and setup of Honolulu Classical Ballet in Honolulu, Hawaii. Currently, with his responsibilities at Nashville Ballet, he acts as a consultant to the Kansas City Dance Festival.
In 2012, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Government, minoring in Communications, while completing the Business Foundations Program at the McCombs School of Business.