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Oct 13, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra interviews Paul Vasterling — Artistic Director at Nashville Ballet. As a choreographer with a deep affinity for music, Paul has created over 40 works, ranging from classical, full-length story ballets to contemporary one-acts. Since becoming Nashville Ballet’s Artistic Director in 1998, the company has commissioned 22 original scores for brand-new ballets under Vasterling’s direction. Vasterling has also grown the Nashville Ballet from 12 to 25 professional dancers and has led the company to its Kennedy Center debut. Paul is a Fulbright Scholar and was selected as one of the Fellows in residence at The Center for Ballet and Arts at NYU in 2017.

Paul fully understands the power that the arts have in shaping humanity and has dedicated his life to showcasing the arts — and particularly dance — to the masses. Additionally, as a veteran leader, Paul understand the strategic importance of keeping an organization’s mission front-and-center and moving towards that true north. On the podcast, Paul dives into both sides of the ballet, sharing his thoughts on the importance of artistic expression but also giving tips on being a successful organization and a successful dancer.


Moving Quotes:

“The mission statement of an organization is like a filter. It helps you decide what you’re doing and if you’re on the right track."

“Ballet is merely a means to an end; it is not an end unto itself. We use it and try to create fine instruments with our bodies so that we can express something that is important to humanity."

“Part of the process of a choreographer is doing as much work as possible. Some of them are good; some of them are not good. Some of them last; some of the don’t last."

“Art makes us understand each other as humans better. It enables us to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world through a different lens. Then we can understand the world a little bit better."

“An advantage of being around for a long time is that you start to let the ego part of the job move aside a little bit, and you start to concentrate on the bigger picture. It’s not about you."

“The dancers who make it [in auditions] are the ones who do their homework."

“To become a professional dancer, you have to want it so much that you can taste it. And if you don’t want it that much, that is okay. Go in another direction. There are so many things you can do as an artist."

“As an artistic director, you live in many seasons at once. And, often, you can’t remember which season you’re living in."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:56: Paul discusses what the Nashville Ballet is currently crafting and the difficult but exciting challenges of pushing creativity during a pandemic.

8:31: Paul explains the importance of remembering the purpose of ballet as an art instead of getting lost in the individual movements.

12:20: Vasterling describes the extreme importance of keeping a company’s mission statement at the forefront of everything the company does.

15:50: Paul discusses the symbiotic relationship between the School of Nashville Ballet and the actual Nashville Ballet company.

20:27: Vasterling, who has choreographed 40 works, walks through his creative process and how choreography has always been a part of who he is.

25:37: Vasterling shares some auditioning tips for those dancers looking to break into companies.

31:37: Paul discusses why the arts are and forever will be important for humanity.

35:54: Vasterling shares some sage advice on being willing to cut ties with the dream of professional dance, if necessary, and find a different way to get plugged into the arts.

41:00: Paul describes what’s next for him personally and for Nashville Ballet as a company.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Paul Vasterling

Nashville Ballet