Dance Theatre of Tennessee: Up close and confidential

Dance Theatre of Tennessee takes its mission of bringing ballet to the people seriously. For its upcoming third season, the company and its artistic director Christopher Mohnani are introducing a new series called “Ballet in the Park,” which will deliver top-notch professional ballet to the masses for free.

ballet-conOf course, no worthwhile endeavor is completely free, which is where this weekend’s “Ballet Confidential” comes in. This special performance, which starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Montgomery Bell Academy Theatre, 4001 Memphis-Bristol Highway, is a fundraiser for the company’s various outreach programs, including “Ballet in the Park.” The program will offer a sneak peek at the company’s 2012-13 season.

Mohnani is calling his season “The Many Faces of Eve,” a nod to the dominate role that women will play in most of the company’s upcoming performances. The season opens Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 with a “Ballet in the Park” double feature of Carmen and Ecole de Ballet. DTT’s Carmen is based on Georges Bizet’s wildly popular opera about a Spanish soldier who falls tragically under the spell of a sensuous gypsy. Ecole de Ballet explores the development of a young dancer.

DTT’s season continues Oct. 5 when the company joins the Nashville Jazz Orchestra for a night of Latin jazz at the Blair School of Music. The company will then take history’s most popular ballet – The Nutcracker – on the road presenting it at the Lamplighter Theater in Smyrna (Nov. 19-20), Ensworth Theater in Nashville (Nov. 23-24), Creek Wood High School Auditorium in Dickson (Dec. 1-2), Austin Peay University in Clarksville (Dec. 8-9), and the Tucker Theatre on the campus of MTSU in Murfreesboro and Smithville Arts Center in Smithville (Dec. 19-20).

In March, the company will present “Muses” at Father Ryan High School Auditorium, presenting George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and choreographer Ma Cong’s Passion along with the world premiere of a new dance by Darrell Grand Moultrie. Those performances are Mar. 2-3. The season will conclude with DTT’s Story Book Series performance of Cinderella May 4-5 at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre in Murfreesboro.

Tickets for this weekend’s Ballet Confidential are $25. For more information go to www.dancetheatretn.org or call 615-391-5000.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.