Grand-scale production remains true to Bard’s iconic romance

Nashville Ballet will open its performance season with the return of Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s Romeo and Juliet, September 20–22 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall to tell the impassioned tale of a love so powerful not even life can contain it.

“There’s an inherent universality to Shakespeare’s writing that makes something like Romeo and Juliet feel relevant each time we present it,” Vasterling said. “The range of emotions explored in the storyline makes the work feel personal and accessible for each audience member, while also challenging our dancers to deepen their connection to the work.”

Vasterling conveys Shakespeare’s original storyline about the romance of these young, star-crossed lovers through passionate choreography, theatrical performances, and an emotionally-laden score from Sergei Prokofiev, performed live by the Nashville Symphony. By combining those elements with expansive sets, lush costumes, and exhilarating fight scenes, he fully transports the audience to fair Verona in this grand-scale production.

Created in 2004, and last presented by Nashville Ballet in 2013, Vasterling’s Romeo and Juliet draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Though the story takes place in Shakespeare’s time, and many elements of the costumes, sets, and choreography remain authentic to that period, Vasterling’s version also features modern influences from works like West Side Story and Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic 1968 film adaptation for a production that pays perfect homage to the Bard’s beautifully tragic love story.

Integral to the authenticity of the work, Nashville Ballet enlisted London-based fight director Tim Klotz to work alongside Vasterling to develop the choreography in the ballet’s highly-regarded fight scenes. Klotz’s extensive experience in stage combat instruction offers Company dancers guidance on making the ballet’s sword fighting appear lifelike and action-packed. What’s more, Klotz’s industry knowledge helped Vasterling create fight choreography that draws directly from the cape fighting styles traditional to the Shakespearean era, a quality unique to Nashville Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet adaptation.

“This is a work filled with swagger [and] machismo…In fact, the production’s stylish and realistic sword fighting is part of the dance,” writer and arts critic John Pitcher expressed after seeing the production in 2013.

Escape to Verona in a whirlwind of forbidden passion and swoon-worthy romance. Tickets start at $35 and are available for purchase in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at 615-782-4040, or Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund is the presenting sponsor for Romeo and Juliet; Benefits, Inc. and Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance are supporting sponsors. A complete schedule of performances and more information can be found at

Patrons can enhance their ballet-going experience by taking part in Nashville Ballet’s free Inside the Ballet lecture series in which participants gain insider access to industry experts and the artists responsible for bringing Romeo and Juliet to the stage in September. The four-part lecture series takes place September 5–17 at Nashville Ballet’s Sylvan Park facility. To learn more about Nashville Ballet’s Inside the Ballet initiatives, visit

About Nashville Ballet
Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and NB2, Nashville Ballet’s official second company, provide more than 60,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through season performances and its Community Engagement programming. Curriculum-based Community Engagement programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries, and public elementary, middle, and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet brings world-class dance instruction to students age two to 70.

Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metro Arts, Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.

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Mary Ann Kaylor Griffiths

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