Longtime Artistic Director of the Nashville Ballet, Paul Vasterling, is retiring

Nashville Ballet has announced the artistic director Paul Vasterling will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 season, completing 33 years with the organization. As the longest-serving Artistic Director in the history of the Nashville Ballet, the Board has decided to appoint him Artistic Director Emeritus upon his retirement in recognition of his services. Current Deputy Artistic Director Nick Mullikin has been appointed CEO and Deputy Artistic Director effective August 26 and will succeed Vasterling as Artistic Director and CEO in June 2023.

For more than 30 years, Vasterling has been the bedrock of the Nashville Ballet and is approaching his 25th year at the helm as the company’s Artistic Director. Under Vasterling’s leadership, the Nashville Ballet has grown from a troupe of 12 dancers to become the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee, with 33 professional dancers, including: Second company and renowned ballet school that attracts dancers from across the United States.

Vasterling joined the Nashville Ballet in 1989 as a company dancer and was appointed Artistic Director of the Nashville Ballet in 1998. During his tenure, he created over 40 ballets of his own, including Firebird, Seasons, Lucy Negro Redux, and Carmina Burana. ,”, “Romeo and Juliet,” “Peter Pan,” “Lizzie Borden,” “Dracula,” “Appalachian Spring,” and “Nashville’s Nutcracker,” which has been played by over half a million people from central Tennesseen.

Passionate about supporting the work of emerging choreographers, he founded the Emergence series in 2004 to give numerous choreographers space to create new work and learn to collaborate with musicians while creating an original score. A talented musical arranger in his own right, Vasterling directed the Nashville Ballet to commission over 22 original scores from local singer-songwriters, nationally known musicians such as Louis York and The Shindellas, and GRAMMY award-winning artists, including Ben wrinkles and Rhiannon Giddens. He has highlighted Nashville artistry and history by collaborating with institutions such as the Nashville Children’s Theatre, the Bluebird Cafe and the Nashville Symphony. Under his direction, the company toured South America, Europe and the United States, making their Kennedy Center debut in 2017. In addition to his own choreographies, Vasterling has added works by to the company’s repertoire George Balanchine, Donald ByrdJiří Kylián, Jennifer Archibald, Val Caniparoli and Christopher Wheeldonamong many others.

Vasterling served as CEO from 2010 to 2018, and under his stewardship, the Nashville Ballet’s operating budget grew by 800% and the administrative team more than doubled. Vasterling oversaw two major expansions of the Nashville Ballet’s studios and administrative offices. The first was the purchase of the Martin Center in 2000, followed by the launch of the ELEVATE Capital Campaign in 2014, which raised $5.2 million to further expand the facilities to include seven world-class studios, additional office space, a production warehouse on site and more to accommodate a performance venue.

Vasterling is a Fulbright scholar and recipient of numerous awards, including grants from New York University’s Center for Ballet and the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of choreography. His original works have been performed by companies around the world including Oregon Ballet Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Austin, Sarasota Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ballet Manila, Ballet Argentino de Le Plata, Ballet del Sur and Ballet Nacional de Soder .

Under Vasterling’s leadership, the Nashville Ballet has worked to prioritize accessibility and inclusivity by striving to remove social barriers to ballet, including expanding its free community engagement program, conducting national audition searches, and BIPOC to do so to train in Nashville and the introduction of a flesh tone pantyhose and shoe policy for dancers and students of the Nashville Ballet. Vasterling also directed the company’s free digital programming, which culminated in the broadcast debut of a television performance of his original ballet, Nashville’s Nutcracker, which earned him his first Emmy Award. His co-television New York Times acclaimed ballet Black Lucy and the Bard has its national premiere this fall in PBS’s multi-award-winning Great Performances series.

“We are immensely grateful for all that Paul has accomplished during his time with the Nashville Ballet,” said Susan Short Jones, executive director of the Nashville Ballet. “In many ways, he built the Nashville Ballet we have today, a world-class organization that pushes boundaries both in our city and in the dance world. Paul’s decision to retire is bittersweet because it means something to our organization, the Nashville community and thousands of dancers and supporters along the way.”

The Board of Directors of the Nashville Ballet also announced today that Assistant Artistic Director Nick Mullikin has been appointed CEO, effective August 26, and will assume his new role as Artistic Director and CEO following Vasterling’s retirement.

“I couldn’t put the organization in better hands,” said Vasterling. “I have dedicated more than three decades of my life to the Nashville Ballet, and while retirement was a difficult decision, this transition is a natural next step and will enable the Nashville Ballet’s collective vision to be fulfilled. I have the utmost respect for Nick as a leader and artist, and I look forward to supporting him and the organization as Artistic Director Emeritus.”

Mullikin’s promotion is the result of the Nashville Ballet’s thoughtful succession planning to ensure continuity of leadership and advancement of its shared vision to maintain its key organizational ethos, including culture, strategy and execution.

“The Nashville Ballet would not be where it is today without Paul,” said Mullikin. “Working with him over the past few years has given me tremendous insight into what it takes to lead a world-class performing arts organization and I am eager to continue the artistic development of the Nashville Ballet and our work in relation to it on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

Since joining the Nashville Ballet in 2015, Mullikin has made numerous contributions to the organization, including overseeing the staff, budget and growth of the School of Nashville Ballet and NB2, the official of the Nashville Ballet Second companywhich staged its first main stage production under his direction.

With his appointment as Associate Artistic Director in 2018, Mullikin has created clear pathways for artists to advance within the organization and oversaw the promotion of 14 current company dancers from NB2, the Nashville Ballet Second company. He has also been instrumental in recent program decisions and has worked to diversify the Nashville Ballet’s contemporary repertoire by commissioning 25 new works, including 17 world premieres by female choreographers. A former professional dancer with the Houston Ballet and Ballet West, Mullikin is a sought-after guest teacher and internationally known as a judge and coach for the Youth America Grand Prix and the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.

“Nick has been critical to the day-to-day work of the Nashville Ballet since joining seven years ago and has experience managing both the artistic and business sides of this role simultaneously,” said Short Jones. “We are excited to introduce this rising star to the Nashville community.”

The Nashville Ballet’s 2022-23 season begins October 6 with Vasterling’s production of Cinderella. For more information on the current season, see https://www.nashvilleballet.com.

Nashville Ballet is Tennessee’s largest professional ballet company. The Nashville Ballet presents a diverse repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by well-known choreographers, including original works by the artistic director Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and that Second company, NB2 (a pre-professional education company), offers adults and children more than 55,000 art experiences annually through virtual and in-person seasonal performances and its community engagement program. Curriculum-based community engagement programs bring hybrid-learning dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries, and public elementary, middle, and high schools statewide. The School of Nashville Ballet offers premier studio, on-demand and outdoor dance instruction for students ages 2 and up.

About admin

Check Also

Tejasswin Prakash shares a “TejRan” moment as she wears Karan Kundrra’s denim jacket; IMAGE

Tejasswi Prakash and Karan Kundrra are one of the most popular and adored couples in …