Ballet Honors Nashville’s Historically Diverse Musical Heritage
Annual Gala Features Live Music and Original Dance
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (February 21, 2017) – In its ongoing effort to profile how dance pairs with every style of music, Nashville Ballet will pay homage to the diverse musical genres that earned Nashville the title of “Music City,” at its premier fundraising event Ballet Ball, held on March 4, 2017, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Partially inspired by the Jefferson Street music scene of the mid-20th century and Nashville’s resulting TV show “Night Train,” Ballet Ball will feature entertainment curated in creative collaboration with the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM): world-renowned choir the Fisk Jubilee Singers®, blues-rock duo Muddy Magnolias and GRAMMY/Dove/Emmy award-winning producer Shannon Sanders.
NMAAM President and CEO H. Beecher Hicks, III, worked closely with Ballet Ball Co-Chairs and Nashville Ballet Board Members Laura Currie and Martha Ivester to curate a collection of entertainers who celebrate Nashville’s diverse musical heritage.
“Working with Nashville Ballet provides a unique opportunity for the museum to demonstrate how diverse forms of the arts are connected to one another and represent a creative form of expression that connects us all,” Hicks said. “The vision for this year’s Ballet Ball emphasizes innovation, so including this unique mix of talent is a great way to create a series of surprising experiences that help guests realize that they can have a great time experiencing classical, spiritual, rock, blues and funk music all at the same time.”
Multi-talented songwriter, musician and producer, Sanders will perform his songs “Better” and “Move Me,” providing the soundtrack for Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling to create original choreography, performed by Nashville Ballet dancers. Sanders has pursued his career almost exclusively in Nashville, becoming a Grammy-winning producer of albums by India.Arie and Jonny Lang. Also a notable songwriter, Sanders’ work has been recorded by Robert Randolph and the Family Band, John Legend and India.Arie.
Genre-bending female duo Muddy Magnolias will perform “Devil’s Teeth” and “Train” from their alternative-soul debut album “Broken People.” Composed of native Texan Kallie North and Brooklyn-born Jessy Wilson, the Muddy Magnolias have gathered fans from festival performances and tours with other genre-jumpers the Zac Brown Band, Gary Clark Jr. and Grace Potter. Their first collaboration with Nashville Ballet will feature the premiere of original choreography from Vasterling.
“Nashville Ballet has always incorporated local musicians into its process to show Nashville what ballet can be,” Vasterling said. “At this year’s Ballet Ball, though, we’re exploring a new musical genre to highlight the rich diversity of Nashville’s music scene and to introduce a whole new audience to the power of dance.”
Under the leadership of Fisk University Associate Professor of Music Paul Kwami, the Fisk Jubilee Singers will perform two selections: “There is a Balm in Gilead” and “I’m Gonna Sing ‘til the Spirit Moves in my Heart.” As one of the world’s foremost a cappella ensembles and the premier performers of the Negro spiritual, the Fisk Jubilee Singers specialize in performing songs originally sung by slaves prior to the Civil War. During their performance, Nashville Ballet company dancer Christopher Stuart will present choreography first developed in 2015 for Nashville Ballet’s Emergence series, which profiles new and emerging art.
At the performance, Nashville Ballet will present the second annual Synergy Award to the Fisk Jubilee Singers for furthering the creative partnership between music and dance that Nashville Ballet so strongly believes in and executes on stage. Kwami will accept on behalf of the group and deliver remarks.
"The 2015 performance with Nashville Ballet was such a moving, memorable experience that beautifully captured what is possible when art combines in unexpected ways," Kwami said. "That's at the heart of the Synergy Award, so it's quite an honor to be recognized by the ballet for not only our contribution to Nashville's arts scene, but for also inspiring their art form."
Since Kwami’s appointment in 1994, the Fisk Jubilee Singers has performed in renowned venues such as the Apollo Theatre, the historic Plymouth Congregational Church in New York, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, The White House and many European destinations, and has also been awarded a National Medal of Arts.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers will be featured in NMAAM when the museum moves into its home at the location of the former Nashville Convention Center. Demolition and construction are expected to begin in 2017 on the $40 million project, with an anticipated opening in 2019. NMAAM’s presence will expand the 5th Avenue of the Arts project, which highlights artistic and cultural entertainment offerings in downtown Nashville.
Tickets for Ballet Ball are by invitation only, but the general public is invited to purchase tickets to the Ballet Ball’s Late Party, which features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a seat at the performance. Late Party Co-Chairs Janie and John Berry and Mary Lindley Carswell have programmed an evening of dancing to the tunes of Bizz & Everyday People, who were recently named Indie R&B Group/Artist of the Year at the 2nd Annual Indie Ville TV Awards. Late Party tickets are $150 per person.
Ballet Ball is the single largest funding source for Nashville Ballet’s Community Engagement initiatives, which introduce the art of dance and bring educational programming to nearly 40,000 children and families throughout Nashville and the surrounding areas each year. These programs bring ballet and arts education to schools, libraries and other community centers nearly daily, reaching many children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience this art form. The 28th in Nashville Ballet’s history, this year’s Ballet Ball is advised by former Ball Chairman and this year’s Honorary Chair Laurie Gold Eskind, and features a menu by Kristen Winston Catering, selected wine pairings provided by Lipman Brothers and event design by AmosEvents.
For more information about Ballet Ball or to purchase tickets to the Late Party, please visit Nashville Ballet’s website.
As the only museum dedicated to all dimensions of African American music, The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), opening in 2019, will showcase over 50 music genres created or impacted by African Americans, honor the legacy and legends of this diverse music and detail the impact music has on musicians and consumers around the world. NMAAM will draw upon a range of music and history enthusiasts to explore and celebrate American music and will tell a story never before told, until now. For more information, visit NMAAM.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: theNMAAM.
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.