by Jazz Dorsey
One of the newest arts groups on the Nashville front is New Dialect, a company that is working to pioneer a new culture of contemporary dance in Music City. The company has an ambitious program offering professional development for dancers and choreographers, community workshops for those who have no previous dance experience, and world-class contemporary dance performances for local audiences at movie theater prices.
New Dialect was founded by Nashville native Banning Bouldin, who, at seventeen, moved to NYC to train as a dancer at Juilliard. After graduating in 2002, she went on to perform internationally throughout North America, Europe, and Russia before returning to Nashville in 2010. What she found on her arrival was that the arts scene in Nashville had grown significantly since she had left but that it still lacked a contemporary-dance training and performance company. She then set out on a mission to provide the Nashville dance community with the kind of opportunities she had experienced abroad.
Since its inception in 2012, New Dialect has brought artists from around the world to Nashville to teach workshops and choreograph new dances for the company’s repertory. In August of this year, the company held its debut at OZ Nashville. The evening’s performance featured works by Ana Lucaciu, Banning Bouldin, and Idan Sharabi with live, original music by Russian composer Lev Zhurbin. Nearly 600 people attended the show —a record crowd for the venue—and the performance received rave reviews from both the press and the public.
Since its debut, New Dialect has been working to make a name for itself both on and off the stage. New Dialect was recently voted Nashville’s “Best New Dance Company” and “Best Alternative Fitness Class” by the readers of the Nashville Scene, and on October 28 the company’s dancers were the opening act at the TEDx Nashville Salon mini-conference, CREO.
The company has three upcoming performances this season: one on November 16 during the Frist Family Days Festival, and two on December 10 at Houston Station. The latter two shows will feature the creative work of internationally renowned Canadian choreographer Belinda McGuire, formerly a dancer with Gallim and the Limon Company, among others. McGuire will be performing her own solo show—The Heist Project—in Nashville, and while here she will both create a new work for the dancers of New Dialect as well as teach a ten day Master Class through the company’s education program.
In May 2015, New Dialect will collaborate with OZ Nashville, Trisha Brown Dance Company and Zeitgeist Art Gallery to present Trisha Brown’s installation, “Planes.” New Dialect and dancers from the Trisha Brown Dance Company will perform the piece together every weekend during the month of May.
Throughout the year, New Dialect will also continue to offer daily professional training, including Master Classes with such renowned guest artists as Belinda McGuire, Cindy Salgado, Peter Chu and others. Their community workshops include practices like Gaga/People, Alexander Technique, Contact Improvisation, Kinesiology and Dancing into Self-Integration. These programs are designed to “allow members of the Nashville community to experience the emotionally and physically healing properties of dance: strengthening our bodies, sharpening our minds, and connecting us more deeply to ourselves and each other through movement.”