Paul Vasterling’s artistic career began at age 10 when he started studying piano, then expanded at age 16 when he started dancing. From this start, Vasterling landed at Nashville Ballet where he became a company dancer, teacher, ballet master and choreographer. He stepped into the role of Artistic Director of Nashville Ballet in 1998, ten years after he began his association with the organization.
A choreographer with a deep affinity for music, Vasterling has created over 40 works, ranging from classical, full-length story ballets to contemporary one-acts. With a special focus on highlighting the wealth of artistry and rich history of Nashville, Vasterling's connection to music and passion for community have led to collaborations with numerous nationally and internationally renowned musicians and institutions including The Bluebird Cafe, Ben Folds, Rhiannon Giddens and more; Nashville Ballet has commissioned 22 original scores for brand-new ballets under his direction. Vasterling is also a gifted storyteller with a penchant for creating vivid narratives such as Peter Pan, Layla and the Majnun, Lizzie Borden, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Nashville's favorite holiday tradition, Nashville's Nutcracker. Vasterling's choreographic credits extend beyond ballet to the recent Nashville Children's Theatre production Dragons Love Tacos.
Beyond his own choreography, Mr. Vasterling 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 edited and updated the classic productions Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake and has grown the company from a troupe of 12 to 25 professional dancers. With a commitment to cultivating an organization high on artistry and dramatic power, Vasterling has taken Nashville Ballet across the country and beyond—Nashville Ballet's company made its Kennedy Center debut in 2017 and has toured throughout the U.S. including performances in St. Louis, Charleston and an upcoming debut at the Chautauqua Institution in August 2018. The company has also toured internationally in South America and Europe, and many of Vasterling's original works have been staged by companies nationally and internationally.
Vasterling graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola University. He is a Fulbright Scholar and has been awarded many prestigious fellowships—Vasterling is a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellow, and was selected as one of the Fellows in residence for the 2017-18 academic year at The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
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.
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.
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
Associate Artistic Director
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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.
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School of Nashville Ballet Accompanists