Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling has announced the 2018-2019 season roster. In his 20th season as artistic director, Vasterling adds five newcomers, promotes four from within and welcomes the return of one School of Nashville Ballet alum. Nashville Ballet’s company currently includes 24 artists, 60 percent of which are alumni of NB2, Nashville Ballet’s official second company. Nashville Ballet’s company and NB2 dancers are selected from a rigorous nationwide audition process from a pool of over 500 qualified applicants.

“This season our patrons will get to know several new artists while becoming more familiar with many of our organization’s most dedicated dancers, including several who’ve recently received well-deserved promotions,” said Vasterling.

Sarah Pierce of Cambridge, Massachusetts has been promoted from apprentice to company member. Pierce trained at Boston Ballet School before joining NB2 in 2016 and is currently on leave of absence from Harvard University. Kennedy Brown of Porter, Indiana, Imani Sailers of Chicago, Illinois and Aleksandr Schroeder of Anderson, Indiana also received promotions. All members of NB2 in 2017, Brown, Sailers and Schroeder will now join Nashville Ballet’s company as apprentices. Once a School of Nashville Ballet student, Owen Thorne of New Orleans, Louisiana returns to join the company after previously working with Houston Ballet, Scottish Ballet and as a freelance artist nationally and internationally.

“Promoting dancers from within is incredibly rewarding; it speaks greatly to the strength of the training demonstrated within our organization,” said Vasterling. “I think audiences will find the strength of our company even more apparent this year. Each artist, no matter how new or familiar, will bring something unique to the stage.”

Michael Burfield of Lakewood Ranch, Florida joins Nashville Ballet’s company from Sarasota Ballet. Vasterling also welcomes Jamie Kopit of New York, New York, Lily Saito of Astoria, New York and Luca Sportelli of Bari, Italy as company members. Kopit joins Nashville Ballet after seven years at the world-renowned American Ballet Theatre. Saito was previously an American Repertory Ballet company member and Sportelli joins from Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina. Benjamin Wetzel of Martinez, California also joins Nashville Ballet’s company after five years at Louisville Ballet.

Nashville Ballet’s 2018-2019 season celebrates 20 years under Paul Vasterling’s artistic direction with a carefully curated collection of iconic classics, returning favorites and the world premiere of Vasterling’s highly anticipated Lucy Negro Redux. The season opens with Swan Lake September 21-23, 2018 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Single tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online, by phone at (615) 782-4040 or in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville. Season ticket packages are also available, offering arts enthusiasts discounts and benefits for buying more ballet. For season tickets, please call (615) 297-2966 x710 or visit

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 70,000 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 Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.

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AuthorNashville Ballet