February 2018

TPAC February 9 – 11

At this particular point in history the words “Never Again” which followed the atrocities of World War II may seem to ring hollow as the world again addresses current realities of ethnic cleansing in places like Yemen and Rohingyua/Myanmar. Into that sad reality, Nashville Ballet brings us Light as part of the Holocaust and Humanity Project.

Photography by Tony Spielberg

Nashville Ballet Artistic Director/CEO Paul Vasterling experienced the artistic and community impact of Light in 2005 while attending its world premiere in Austin, Texas. Created and choreographed by Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills, this powerful and relevant ballet will be performed at TPAC February 9–11 in perfect timing with the Holocaust and Humanity Project’s community-wide education initiatives and the Nashville Symphony’s March performance of Violins of Hope.

Based on the powerful personal accounts of Holocaust survivors such as Naomi Warren, the emotion and artistry of dance heightens the impact on audiences accustomed to seeing films and documentaries about the Holocaust.

“I think art universalizes human experience. That is its purpose—to help us step into new worlds, into other individuals’ minds, and into different ways of thinking—to create human empathy,” says Vasterling. “I believe artistic interpretations have more impact than linear or factual tellings because of this universality. More people can be affected by the art, in this case the dance, and it is able to touch the audience members’ hearts.”

Coming together as a community through the Holocaust and Humanity Project, through partnership with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and collaborations with the Nashville Symphony (Violins of Hope), Fisk University, the Belcourt Theatre, and others, Nashville Ballet is participating in exploring the larger issues of relevancy, responsibility, and actions toward the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate.

Photography by Tony Spielberg

Throughout January, the Ballet and its partners hosted a series of events including an open rehearsal, a Lunch & Learn, film screenings, and panel discussions. The last of these is a free panel discussion curated by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission at Fisk University’s Appleton Room in Jubilee Hall on February 3.

“Stephen requires the companies that perform this work to participate in concurrent conversations and listenings about the Holocaust and human rights throughout the staging and coaching process,” says Vasterling. One of our dancers, Julia Eisen, has grandparents who are survivors. Recently the entire company and staff spent an evening listening to Julia’s story and discussing what happened.

Photography by Tony Spielberg

“We are interested in stories of the Holocaust and how these stories are relevant to our community and society today. The accounts of the Holocaust are reminders of the fragility of human rights.

Light is a testimony to that fragility as well as the unconquerable human spirit. Vasterling also reminds us that “we can all become agents of change and consider our personal responsibility when confronted with injustice in the world today.”

Light / The Holocaust and Humanity Project will be performed at TPAC February 9–11. For more information, visit www.nashvilleballet.com.

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