Dance Theatre of Tennessee offers the perfect post-valentine celebration with “East Meets West,” a diverse and eclectic line-up of some of the most celebrated Asian choreographers in the world. Offering their take on a predominantly Western Art form (ballet), the evening will feature romantic duets, forceful statements, and indigenous vignettes. Performances will be on February 22, Saturday, 7:30pm and February 23, Sunday, 2:00pm at Father Ryan HS Auditorium, 700 Norwood Drive, Nashville, TN 37204.
Led by longtime Nashville Principal Dancer and Artistic Director Christopher Mohnani, Dance Theatre of Tennessee (DTT) is Middle Tennessee’s newest force in dance and theater entertainment. With its mission of “bringing ballet to the people,” DTT continues to offer cutting edge choreography while honoring time-tested classics. Always a favorite, Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s Winter Series program will offer 5 pieces that will have every dance lover all they desire – wonderful dancing and exotic choreography together with memorable and familiar music that will have audiences wanting for more.
Included in the evening is Hazel Gower’s “Green”, the former Ballet Memphis choreographer’s homage to her mother Luz Escalante Sabas, who pioneered in zero-waste management in the ’70s. Set to J.S Bach’s music, Hazel wanted to show the essence of earth’s beauty having the elements as an inspiration for the dancers. Presented in four movements representing the elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, “Green” combines Asian movements like Tai Chi with the firmly entrenched balletic discipline and fast pointe work. “I have always wanted my dancers’ body to sing, explore movements and tinker with rhythmic structures and dynamics and I believe “Green” shows all those influences,” shares Hazel. Accompanying the piece is Music City Baroque.
“Mirror, Romance and Fame,” is choreographed by former Ballet Caracas (Venezuela) soloist Manuel Molina and it presents an up-close look into a person’s self discovery, finding love and celebrating it’s union. Set to Chopin’s haunting music as played by Tennessee Arts Commission director and concert pianist William Coleman, “Mirror, Romance and Fame” showcases Molina’s love of beautiful lines and intricate partnering work. “I want the audience to relate and see themselves in the dancers as we all in one point or another go through a similar discovery,” adds Molina.
Presenting a humorous take on love and relationships is “Nuts” from former Singapore Dance Theatre’s Ric Culalic. This fun piece answers the question “What happens when you are torn between love and lust?” Music City Baroque plays the music of the Beatles like you have never heard before. Youthful, romantic, passionate and with a surprise ending, “Nuts” will have the audience humming familiar tunes and enjoying a contemporary take on ballet duets.
Canadian based Jojo Lucila has “Yebo,” a fast and eccentric take on movement anchored by the catchy Art of Noise music. “I wanted to present a piece that challenges classically trained dancers and allows them to literally let their hair down,” shares Lucila. Combining familiar Asian-themed movements and props with unconventional choreography, “Yebo” is a wild ride from beginning to end.
The evening closes as Dance Theatre of Tennessee takes you to the majestic waters of the South China Sea. Ballet Philippines’ Gener Caringal presents “Vinta (Sailboat),” a glorious piece that will transport the audience to South East Asia with its glorious waters and majestic sailboats. A favorite among numerous international dance festivals, “Vinta” combines the proud and local flavor of South East Asia with intricate pointe work, weaving ensemble patterns, and exciting and dramatic duets. Constant fixtures in the piece are these colorful fabrics that are at times attached to the dancer’s body, hanging at the background, leading the ensemble or being pulled from one side to the other that represents the sailboats. “Vinta is my love-letter to my country and its people, continuously evolving, and will forever be a source of inspiration for many,” narrates Caringal.
“Our winter series program is always a favorite among the dancers and the audience,” shares Dance Theatre of Tennessee Artistic Director Christopher Mohnani. “Exposing our dancers to different styles and different voices and choreographers helps them grow and develop further as performers and artists. As an artist and performer, you crave for this challenge and you want the opportunity to stretch beyond your comfort zone. This allows the performers a fresh take on their craft which is always very exciting for the audience,” Mohnani further adds. “We at Dance Theatre of Tennessee are very honored to share the stage with talented artists and choreographers and I am personally excited to celebrate Asian choreographers, their unique voice and culture.”
Tickets are available by visiting www.ticketsnashville.com. General admission tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children. Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s “East Meets West” is presented in part by the Metro Arts Commission, Nashville Arts Magazine and Hotel Preston.