By Janice Malone
NASHVILLE, TN — The nationwide tour of Lucy Negro Redux kicks off in Nashville! After debuting in 2019 with three sold out performances, Nashville Ballet’s Artistic Director, Paul Vasterling’s nationally acclaimed production returns to the stage (March 18 – 26) at TPAC’S POLK THEATER.
Hailed by The New York Times as “wildly original…” This groundbreaking work explores the mysterious love life of William Shakespeare and his illustrious muses, the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth.” Lucy Negro Redux is based on the book and is narrated live by Nashville poet Caroline Randall Williams and features an original score by GRAMMY Award-winning artist and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Rhiannon Giddens.
Nashville Ballet’s Imani Sailers is one of two company dancers this season dancing the lead role of ‘Lucy Negro’. Ms. Sailers joined NB2 in 2017 and was promoted to company apprentice after one year. In 2018, she was named one of Pointe Magazine’s “Stars of the Corps.” After one season as a company apprentice, Sailers was promoted to company dancer in 2019. During her time at Nashville Ballet, Sailers has performed roles in Nashville’s Nutcracker, Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s Lucy Negro Redux and Carmina Burana, Christopher Stuart’s Seven Deadly Sins, Val Caniparoli’s The Lottery, and more. She was born and raised in Chicago and began her dance training at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center at age three. Named one of Nashville Lifestyles Magazine’s “25 Most Beautiful People” in 2019. When Imani has free time, which is rare, she enjoys teaching aspiring dancers at Rejoice School of Ballet. Here, she shares insights about her amazing career as a professional ballet dancer.
TRIBUNE: Congratulations on having the lead role of Lucy Negro Redux. What is it like to have such a prominent role?
IMANI: “It’s very exciting! It’s our second time performing it for our Nashville audiences. During the world premiere run of Lucy Negro Redux, I was the understudy for the Lucy character. I don’t know very many black ballerinas that have the opportunity to say their first principal role was created specifically for a black woman and tells a specific black story while still using the language of classical and contemporary ballet. This opportunity also allows me to able to be myself and represent my community in an authentic way.”
TRIBUNE: What was it like working with narrator Caroline Randall Williams and Rhiannon Giddens for the first time?
IMANI: “It was amazing to see these two celebrated artists in the studio working and collaborating with us. Working with them is one of the many reasons that I continue to love this organization. Nashville Ballet presents and creates such outstanding opportunities to collaborate with, learn from, and highlight artistic voices of color. I was very inspired to see these two very strong, very talented, capable, creative black women in the studio, just really vibing off of each other, and just vibing with Paul Vasterling. Being able to be a part of the process of preparing and performing this work is a wonderful opportunity that I’m so grateful to have.”
TRIBUNE: In 2019, you were voted by Nashville Lifestyles magazine as one of the 25 Most Beautiful People.
IMANI: “I loved the opportunity to be a part of their list. One of the things that was so great about being a part of the article was that the magazine really made sure that all of us who were selected were honored for more than just our outer beauty. This article gave their readers a chance to learn more about us about the contributions we have made to the greater Nashville community.”
TRIBUNE: As a ballet dancer you obviously listen to a lot of classical music. But when you’re away from the ballet, what other styles of music do you enjoy?
IMANI: “I’ve always loved old school R& B music. This music genre was big in my family. I also enjoy listening to Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Drake. My music taste spans a broad range. Most of the time when I’m in my car, I’m listening to today’s R&B and Hip-hop sounds. Sometimes, before a show, I often enjoy listening to these genres of music because it makes me feel closer to home.”
TRIBUNE: Since you’re a professional ballet dancer, do you ever indulge in some of all the great Nashville food, such as Nashville Hot Chicken?
IMANI: “I love trying new restaurants in Nashville! So many of our dancers certainly love the things that everyone else in Nashville loves, especially when it comes to food. So don’t be surprised to see any of us out eating some Nashville Hot Chicken.” (she laughs)
To reserve seats for groups of 10 or more, please contact the Nashville Ballet Box Office at 615-297-2966 x710 or firstname.lastname@example.org