ETSU exhibit celebrates 75 years of Bristol Ballet

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – The Reece Museum, in collaboration with the Archives of Appalachia and Bristol Ballet, present “Ballet in Appalachia: 75 Years with Bristol Ballet.” This new Tennessee Music Pathways exhibition is now open to the public through June 2024. A reception is Thursday, Aug. 10, from 5-7 p.m.
Ballet in Appalachia is a historical retrospective of one of the oldest arts institutions in the Tri-Cities. The exhibition is curated by Bristol Ballet’s Moira Frazier Ostrander, Artistic and School of Ballet director and Amanda Hairston, Artistic and Development director. This Tennessee Music Pathways exhibition includes photographs, program books, costumes and other archival materials from the 75-year history of this local arts organization in both Tennessee and Virginia.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with ETSU’s Reece Museum and Archives of Appalachia to highlight our historical milestone in such a special way. We can’t wait to share Bristol Ballet’s unique history and its connection to music with our community,” said Moira Frazier Ostrander. “Our hope is to give access to ballet through this exhibition and through the Ballet’s continuing contributions to the permanent collections in the Archives and Museum.”
Bristol Ballet has a long tradition of serving and being a part of the Appalachian community surrounding it. The ballet company has provided dance training and performances since 1948, and has integrated and interacted with the Appalachian region from the beginning, when Constance Hardinge, the founder, fell in love with the mountains. Throughout the years, Bristol Ballet staff have donated artifacts such as photographs, programs books and other documents to the Archives of Appalachia, recently donating a number of original costumes to the Reece Museum. These artifacts will serve to tell the story of Bristol Ballet and provide opportunities for further research.
In addition to the exhibition, Bristol Ballet is also hosting a special 75th anniversary celebration on Aug. 26 at Paramount Bristol. During this performance Bristol Ballet will premiere two new dance pieces set to Appalachian music. Both pieces are jointly choreographed by Moira Frazier Ostrander and Amanda Hairston. “Myth” is a singular dance piece performed to the song of the same name by Amethyst Kiah, a native of Johnson City and ETSU Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies program alum who has achieved national and international recognition. Another piece, “Love Letter to Appalachia” will feature Dolly Parton’s My Tennessee Mountain Home. This ballet piece utilizes beautiful Appalachian imagery to craft a “love letter” to the region we call home.
Tennessee Music Pathways connects visitors to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee “the Soundtrack of America,” organizers said. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, this state-wide program identifies, explains and preserves the legacy of music in Tennessee.
ETSU is home to a thriving arts community, hosting dozens of concerts, exhibitions and performances throughout the year.
The museum is a unit of the Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services, housed in the Department of Appalachian Studies. The Reece Museum is located on the campus of ETSU and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Follow the Reece Museum on social media for more content and digital programming.

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