by Jan Morrison
photo by Tony Spielberg
Producing art as a catalyst for action is not new.
Pablo Picasso depicted the brutality of war in his room-sized painting Guernica that finally raised awareness of the bloody Spanish Civil War. Films American History X, Amistad, Hotel Rwanda and many others illustrate the personal and societal impact of racism in America and beyond. And the theater world has produced Rent, Angels in America and The Normal Heart as a response to the AIDS crisis and LGBT+ rights.
But ballet isn’t often cited as a medium for social commentary or a catalyst for action.
Until now. In February, Nashville Ballet will premiere Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project as a part of its annual Attitude series to explore the protection of human rights against bigotry and hate through arts, education and public dialogue.
Created by Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills, Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project is based on the life of Naomi Warren, a real-life Holocaust survivor, and set to music by Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and others. Nashville Ballet dancers, under the direction of Nashville Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Paul Vasterling, will bring the story to TPAC’s Polk Theater February 9-11.
“As dancers, we are changed and challenged by our art every day,” Vasterling said. “But we don’t just think dance changes us—we believe it changes everyone who experiences it.”
In addition to the performance, Nashville Ballet will partner with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission to facilitate public dialogues across the city about what the Holocaust teaches us about personal responsibility against injustice as we see it today.
Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project and its associated events are a part of a city-wide initiative during 2018 to help Nashvillians reflect on their roles and contributions to social justice in our city and world. The community initiative is anchored by The Nashville Symphony’s Violins of Hope, an exhibit of and performance with musical instruments played in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Join the conversation by attending one of Nashville Ballet’s events:
Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project public events
|18||Open Rehearsal Viewing (FREE)||Look in on rehearsal for Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project and participate in a post-rehearsal panel discussion on the ballet, the Holocaust and human rights issues in our community.||5-7 p.m.||Nashville Ballet Studio A (3630 Redmon Street, Nashville 37209)|
|23||Inside the Ballet Lecture Series Begins||This two-week course gives participants an intimate look inside the ballet, including interviews with Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project creator Stephen Mills and Nashville Ballet company dancer Julia Eisen. $40 for four-part series.||2-3 p.m.||Nashville Ballet Studio A (3630 Redmon Street, Nashville 37209)|
|24||Lunch and Learn: Screening of Producing Light (FREE)||View Ballet Austin’s Producing Light documentary and participate in a post-screening discussion.||11 a.m. – 1 p.m.||Belcourt Theatre (2102 Belcourt Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212)|
|27||Performance of Frank||In this new ballet, a disfigured boy named Frank N. Stein goes to a new school and realizes that he looks different from the other kids. The ballet and post-performance discussion are designed to evoke dialogue to address social and emotional challenges that teens experience daily. $12 for children; $18 for adults.||6 p.m.||Performing Arts Center at Academy Park (120 Everbright Avenue, Franklin, TN 37064)|
|3||Panel Discussion (FREE)||Join a panel discussion at Fisk University curated and hosted by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.||Check website for time||Fisk University’s Appleton Room in Jubilee Hall (17th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37208)|
|9 -11||Performance of Attitude – Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project||Stay after the performance for a talkback discussion.||Times Vary||TPAC’s Polk Theater (505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37219)|
For more information on Nashville Ballet’s premiere of Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project and its surrounding events, visit NashvilleBallet.com/Light.