Dance Matters: The Road to OZ

January 31, 2014

A new performance space will bring cutting-edge dance to Nashville.


Random Dance in Wayne McGregor’s
FAR. Photo by From top: Ravi Deepres, Courtesy Random Dance.

To find Nashville’s latest spot for dance, you have to drive out to a nondescript warehouse sandwiched between a small airport and a prison. In what was once a cigar factory, the new venue, OZ, will host its premiere performance, Wayne McGregor’s FAR, on February 13. “Wayne McGregor signifies the caliber of work we’ll present here,” says artistic director Lauren Snelling, who hopes the space will become a magnet for contemporary dance in a city where classical ballet remains dominant. “Our mission is to bring in artists who are shifting the landscape of their field. We want Nashville audiences to view dance in a different way.”

While there are several collegiate black-box theaters and studios in the city, OZ will provide Nashville with a venue that presents contemporary dance to a larger audience. Inspired by New York City’s Park Avenue Armory and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, the 10,000-square-foot flexible-use space seats up to 500 people. Snelling says the wide-open stage will encourage bold, multimedia-heavy projects; she mentions particular interest in how a small-scale choreographer, like Kyle Abraham, might maneuver the space, or how the Trisha Brown Dance Company would use its expansiveness to reimagine her earlier works that use ropes and pulleys.

Above: OZ’s cavernous space. Photo by
Anthony Matula, Courtesy OZ.

OZ will also focus on developing local artists. The third Thursday of each month will feature artistic collaborations between Nashville-based artists. And several companies, such as Nashville Ballet, have expressed interest in the space. “We want to support the creation of new work in a region where contemporary dance hasn’t had a major impact,” says Snelling. “You walk into this space and there’s nothing there—choreographers can shape their own vision.”