January 2017

TPAC’s Polk Theater | February 9–12

Dancer Christopher Stuart didn’t know anything about country music when he moved from Connecticut to Nashville 14 years ago. “I may have heard some Garth Brooks and Shania Twain on the radio, but that was the extent of it,” Stuart says. But then he saw Johnny Cash’s heart-rending video “Hurt.” The experience was a revelation.


Courtesy Karyn Photography

“That particular Johnny Cash performance really drew me in, and I couldn’t get it out of mind,” Stuart recalls. “After that I went out and bought all of Johnny Cash’s albums.”

A long-time dancer and choreographer with Nashville Ballet, Stuart eventually turned his passion for Cash’s music into a large-scale dance called Under the Lights. The piece was premiered in 2014 and will be reprised February 9–12 as part of Nashville Ballet’s annual Attitude program at TPAC’s Polk Theater.

Stuart’s 45-minute dance features many of Cash’s best-known songs, including “Ring of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” The songs are performed live by vocalists Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup of the neo-rockabilly band Sugar and the Hi-Lows.

The dances themselves are a seamless blend of classical, modern, and popular styles. “I wasn’t looking to create a dance in any particular style,” says Stuart. “I always let the context of the songs dictate the style.”

Nashville Ballet’s Attitude program will include one other work, choreographer Christopher Bruce’s Sergeant Early’s Dream. That piece is a series of vignettes depicting immigration from Europe to America in the 19th century. Set to English, Irish, and American folksongs, this dance offers a glimpse into the origins of modern-day country music.

For more information about this year’s Attitude program, please visit www.nashvilleballet.com

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