First thing’s first: This isn’t just an interview with Chris Stuart, who is the choreographer for The Raven that recently played at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, but he also happens to be a dear friend of mine, so this interview will actually be a blast to have the chance to do.
I know what it is you do for the Nashville Ballet, but for those reading, could you explain your role in the workings of the ballet community in general?
- “Yes, I am a Principal Dancer with the company and have been with the company for 15 seasons now. I also am a choreographer with the company, as well. So, basically, I have the opportunity to perform and also create ballets!”
This has to be a challenging job. How do you portray a story on a stage without words?
- “It really depends upon the work I am doing. For The Raven, I was going to just have two dancers, but thought, ‘Why not explore more with the Lenore character?’ I think it ended up adding a special and element to the piece.”
I had the honor of seeing The Raven and it was so amazing, to see something we all have at some point, in our lives read, if not memorized. What made you decide to take on something so classic and challenging?
- “Whenever I create a new ballet, I always do a lot of research and probably spend more time doing that than actually choreographing. But knowing a lot about whatever I’m creating, whether it is about a person, poem, etc, it makes it easier for me to tell the story through movement.”
What research is involved in making sure certain cues are right?
- “Like I said earlier, I re-read the poem a million times, but also gave copies to my cast and we actually went through the poem, stanza by stanza, to really understand and dissect what Poe was really trying to say.”
If you had the choice to put on stage another horror classic in ballet form, what would you go for?
- “I’d actually love to do a Stephen King story. I like more of the psychological stories. They are more terrifying.”
Being a horror site, I’m gonna have to ask a question to really get in your mind. What is your favorite horror movie and why?
- “The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre — it was just so low budget, but so good! I love horror movies where you know that it could really happen… also any Rob Zombie movies! Just because he is awesome.”
Well, Chris as always, brother, I appreciate your time and I look forward to what appears to be an already booming career path for you, and seeing what else you have coming up for us.
- “Thank you, brother! Well, I wish we had something else like The Raven coming up, but it is that time of the year and we are gearing up for our opening of Nashville’s Nutcracker in December!”