On Their Toes 

Upcoming dance events

Upcoming dance events

An embarras de richesse hits the Nashville ballet world during the holiday season. This year, not one but two productions of Nutcracker make an appearance. The Nashville Ballet does its usual sumptuous stuff Dec. 12-21 in TPAC’s Jackson Hall, and some 75 local children will dance in the production. Although Tchaikovsky’s ballet has become a stateside holiday institution over the last four decades, the ballet was originally created more than 100 years ago in Russia. It seems only fair, then, that the Moscow State Ballet gets a turn to show Nashvillians the Russian version when the troupe performs Nov. 23 at the Grand Old Opry.

Be forewarned: This company is unlike other recent examples that may have billed themselves as “Famous Dancers From the Bolshoi” or such-like. After the Soviet Union broke up—and the great state theaters were left without the luxuries to which many fur-clad ballerinas had become accustomed—pickup troupes of unemployed Russian dancers hustled for foreign exchange. They’d go on tour, performing an entire evening of solos or pas de deux from famous old Russian war-horses.

The Moscow State Ballet, however, is a different kind of Russian invasion. It has toured this country since 1994, for one thing. For another, the troup will perform the entire Nutcracker ballet in an elaborately decorated production. The dancing, by fabulously trained Russian dancers from some of the best schools in the world, promises to be extra-special. Better purchase your tickets early, since the Moscow State Ballet will perform only two shows.

Of course, The Nutcracker is not the only game in town. At least three regional companies offer full evenings of dance throughout the fall. On Sept. 27, Tennessee Dance Theatre presents its signature piece Quilts at TPAC. At the Ryman Auditorium on Nov. 14, this exciting young company will premiere a new piece by Donna Rizzo and Andrew Krichels. Cissy Welcome’s “Shimmy-She Wobble” will be danced to Mississippi fife and drum music, which reflects both European and African musical traditions. The choreography reflects a similar confluence of African dance with American modern dance. Also on the program with be a new piece, as yet untitled, by choreographer Mark Dendy, who returns to his hometown for the occasion.

The Nashville Ballet, performing Oct. 3 and 4 at TPAC, premieres its version of Serenade, George Balanchine’s first-ever ballet for an American company. This mysterious masterpiece is a symboliste fantasy set to the music of Tchaikovsky, and it alone should be worth the price of admission. On the same bill, resident choreographer Paul Vasterling presents a new version of the great Russian classic Firebird, and Mark Dendy contributes Ritual, a dance set to pulsing African accompaniment.

To enjoy an authentic African dance experience, catch the Uhuru Dance Company, led by Karen Roberts. The group appears in a variety of venues throughout town and is offering workshop demonstrations throughout the fall. Call 463-2623 for information. The company boasts some very talented young people; their home-crafted costumes are colorful, and the stories are compelling. Best of all, the drumming will get your whole body to bouncing in time to the beat.

This fall, Vandy’s Great Performances Series offers a variety of dance concerts. The North Carolina Dance Theatre, a highly acclaimed regional ballet company, comes to Langford Auditorium on Sept. 27. The group’s program consists of three pieces: Jazztones, danced to swing band music by Benny Goodman; Balanchine’s insouciant Who Cares?, set to a medley of George Gershwin tunes; and a highly dramatic new piece composed by Keith Emerson.

On Oct. 10-12, Vanderbilt and TPAC present a new Philip Glass work. Over the last few years, the internationally renowned composer has created a trilogy based on the works of Jean Cocteau. Les Enfant Terribles is a dance/opera spectacle based on the 1929 novel of the same name. Susan Marshall is the choreographer for this avant-garde production.

Despite its rather innocuous name, Tango x 2 is something like a Broadway-type review, except that it focuses exclusively on the passionate dance and song that has come to be identified with the “Argentine soul.” Featuring dancers, singers, and a full tango band, the company appears at Langford Auditorium on Nov. 5. Be prepared for a sizzling evening.

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