Nashville Ballet presents
‘Attitude’ at the Martin Center
Currently running at the Martin Center for Nashville Ballet is Attitude, a series that has developed a reputation for its “game changing choreographies and uniquely Nashville musical collaborations.” This year, presenting two internationally renowned works including Val Caniparoli’s tutto eccetto il lavandino (everything but the kitchen sink), and Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs, alongside a premiere of Fortudine by emerging choreographer Mollie Sansone, the iteration extends this tradition brilliantly.
The evening (I saw the performance on 2/12) opened with the fun and irreverent tutto eccetto il lavandino. San Francisco based dancer and choreographer Val Caniparoli’s “tutto” is a manic masterpiece of confusion and pastiche. The stage is nearly constantly crowded with an ensemble of dancers– men tossing women from arm to arm, and
point to point, littering the floor with pliés, jetés and brisés. This was broken up with a set of three duets, marvelously performed by all, but the highlight of which was the penultimate number performed by Aeron Buchanan and Jaison McClendon. The soundtrack, itself a collage of Vivaldi concerti, was so coldly and objectively baroque that it brought the dancer’s emotional expression into bright and intentional satire—a parody of feeling. In one hilarious moment Caniparoli had the Nashville Ballet’s entire male cohort sobbing openly, uncontrollably, mugging even, to Vivaldi’s tragic sinfonia in B Minor, RV 169, “Al Santo Sepolcro.”
If Caniparoli’s piece lacked narrative, Sonsone’s did not. It’s title might have been taken from “fortitudine vincimus” (through endurance we conquer) which was the family shield of the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, or perhaps from the Marine’s motto, or perhaps Sansone’s Latin is simply “on point.” In any case, the story is a moving representation of the emergence of self-expression and the liberation it can model for others, similar in story, but much, much, much more beautiful than that old Macintosh commercial “1984.” Soloist Julia Eisen danced with a riveting power, grace and charisma when confronted by the conformist ensemble. Mycah Kennedy’s workaday-then-suddenly scarlet costuming is marvelous while Larissa Maestro’s gently modernist score, co-commissioned for the ECHO at the Parthenon series by Centennial Park Conservancy, was stirring in the hands of the Lockeland strings.
Finally, the evening ended with the impossibly romantic Nine Sinatra Songs. Accompanied by a collection of “old blue eyes’” greatest hits, and wisely performed by Nashville on the weekends surrounding St. Valentine’s Day, Tharp’s modern, 20th Century work is a charming, silly and amorous collection of duets. Deserving special mention is Michael Burfield for his “rat-pack” machismo in “Softly as I Leave,” and Claudia Monja for her graceful presence in “Strangers in the Night,” for my money, the evening was stolen (again) by both Mollie Sansone and Aeron Buchanan whose dance to “One for My Baby” was one part nostalgia, two parts intimacy, a splash of debauchery and all delight. (see Tharp and Baryshnikov rehearse the piece here). It felt like just another beautiful evening at the Martin Center, like we used to have before…
Attitude will be produced again on the 18th-20th and then Nashville Ballet returns with Lucy Negro Redux on a National Tour, beginning in Nashville on March 18th-26th.