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Lucy Negro Redux

Based on Caroline Randall Williams's poetry, the ballet "Lucy Negro Redux" will be performed with an original score by Rhiannon Giddens.

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Creating Lucy Negro Redux

Posted on January 22, 2019 by Nashville Ballet
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From book to ballet, Lucy Negro Redux explores Shakespeare’s love life and the subjects of his famed sonnets – the “Dark Lady” and “Fair Youth.” Hear from Artistic Director Paul Vasterling and poet Caroline Randall Williams on the creation of this bold new work.

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Chautauqua Institute Residency

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Nashville Ballet

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Artistic Director and Choreographer Paul Vasterling had the opportunity to workshop Lucy Negro Redux with composer Rhiannon Giddens, poet Caroline Randall Williams, musician Francesco Turrisi, and Nashville Ballet company artists during a recent residency at the acclaimed Chautauqua Institute.

“Lucy Negro, Redux” Announced in The Tennessean!

Posted on May 31, 2018 by Nashville Ballet

“Lucy Negro, Redux” announced in Nashville Ballet’s 2018-2019 performance season via The Tennessean (link).


Nashville Ballet will premiere “Lucy Negro Redux,” an original ballet conceived and choreographed by Artistic Director & CEO, Paul Vasterling, in February 2019 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. A collaboration of music, poetry and choreography, this contemporary ballet based on Caroline Randall Williams’s book of poetry of the same name is unique in process, content and format. While a Fellow at New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts, Vasterling worked with Williams to develop the concept and libretto. The project uses dance and music to execute the author’s exploration of more than 160 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and her arrival to a thesis that the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth”—the subjects and inspiration of these sonnets—were undoubtedly a black woman and a young man lover. Ultimately, in experiencing Lucy through themes of love, otherness and equality, the narrator, and thus the audience, finds a powerful female voice.

This non-linear story is strung together by an original score composed by Rhiannon Giddens (commissioned by Nashville Ballet). A founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens is a Grammy-award winning musician and recent MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ recipient. Her work invigorates music that reflects the African-American experience and reclaims African-American contributions to music. For “Lucy Negro Redux,” Giddens will perform her score live along with an instrumental group. Vasterling’s process is deeply intertwined with musical partnerships. Working with Giddens will be no exception.

This project provides Giddens an opportunity to explore history and race in Renaissance England through literature, music and minstrelsy. In consulting resources such as “Black Tudors” by Miranda Kaufmann, Giddens explores African people living in England during this time—where these individuals came from, what their lives were like, how music informs this moment in history and how this moment in history is informed by music. Her research is revealing abundant Muslim-European and African-European connections including subsets of the European madrigal making fun of African speech and music modes. Giddens is also exploring instruments of the time—many from North Africa and the Middle East became cornerstones of European Renaissance music. The score will reflect Giddens’s curiosity, research, expertise, talent, analysis of the time and interpretation of Williams’s poetry.

Since studying music at Loyola University, Vasterling has developed a history of concocting musical pairings for his original projects. In the heart of Music City, Nashville Ballet is uniquely situated to bring innovative musical collaborations to the ballet stage. Recent examples include commissioning new scores for Lizzie Borden (Philip Feeney, 2017), Frank (Mark Volker, 2017), Seven Deadly Sins (Ten Out of Tenn, 2017), Layla and the Majnun (Richard Danielpour, 2016) and The Ben Folds Project (Ben Folds, 2014).

“Lucy Negro Redux” will impact 3,000 audience members, attracting the dance enthusiasts, musically oriented audiences and the poetry community in Middle Tennessee. Nashville Ballet will execute this project with a marketing team, 25 full-time company dancers, an artistic staff for rehearsal and a development staff to secure additional funding to commission this score and produce the full-length ballet.

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Kronos Quartet: “At the Purchaser’s Option”
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Features: Rhiannon Giddens

The original version of Giddens’s”At the Purchaser’s Option” is performed by Giddens with a banjo. This version linked above is the Kronos String Quartet playing her song (arr. Jacob Garchik) and includes new themes and variations from Giddens herself.

Excerpts from Vasterling’s “Lizzie Borden” (2017)

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Features: Nashville Ballet

“Lizzie Borden” is a ballet choreographed by Paul Vasterling. It premiered in 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee and was recently performed again to a new score by Philip Feeney. The real-life double homicide case of 1892 disturbingly unfolds on stage, centering on a powerful, haunting female voice.

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Nashville, Tennessee

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Last update on January 22, 2019

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February 10, 2019 | Nashville, TN
February 9, 2019 | Nashville, TN
February 8, 2019 | Nashville, TN
January 31, 2019 | Nashville, TN
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Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville Ballet’s mission is to create, perform, teach and promote dance as an essential and inspiring element of our community. Fulfilling this mission is realized in three ways: (1) Presenting a varied repertoire of classical and contemporary works, (2) Offering ballet and dance training for all ages and abilities through the School of Nashville Ballet,…


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