After weeks of full-time training, so grueling on the body, the dancers of Nashville Ballet have scored another winner with their winter performance. The Director's Choice event, driven by the creative vision of artistic director Paul Vasterling, proved to be a popular treat for audience members during Friday night's debut performance.

The Ballet offered three distinctly different pieces as part of this season's offerings. The session's first piece, The Story Teller, debuted at The Australian Ballet in 1997 and now make its North American debut at the Nashville Ballet. Created by famous choreographer Twila Tharp, the piece illustrates the personal story of one character through the routines of four dancers. Each aspect of the performance speaks to the power of a culture's oral history: an orchestral opening segues into a series of tribal beats, followed by a few yearning melancholy strains of music. As a woman's harrowing cry rings out in the final passage, the dancers give a showcase of grace and precision in their movements and emotions.

An Asian legend about an encounter between a wind god and a leaf, Satto is the second piece of the evening, performed by Mollie Sansone and Jon Upleger. The duo display a charming chemistry: Sansone gives a graceful account as the traveling leaf, showing exquisite balance as she gallops across the stage; Upleger's performance is as dynamic as his partner's is delicate, full of powerful athletic leaps that capture this unstoppable force of nature.

While Satto focuses on more sensual impulses, Nashville Ballet original Postcards from the Boys is a fascinating bit of social commentary. Featuring music written by Nashville singer-songwriters Guy Clark and Darrell Scott, the pinnacle piece of the evening portrays the worldwide epidemic of homelessness. Nashville composer Conni Ellisor has built a beautiful arrangement that captures the stark realities of this important issue.

Acclaimed songwriter Shawn Camp performs the music with a seven-member orchestra alongside the dancers. His ragged baritone is the perfect vehicle for these hard-luck tales of heartsick characters. The program becomes more intense as it progresses: Even as every movement expresses empathy for these subjects, the dancers' sheer will can't quell the problems that many homeless people face every day. The Nashville Ballet, in all three pieces of their winter performance, proves the old saying true: art imitates life.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

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Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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