The pieces that Ballet Memphis presents in its Fall Mix are set to music by Memphis icons, innovators, and indie favorites.

By Lisa Williams for Choose901 Blog

In anticipation of the city’s bicentennial, Ballet Memphis has chosen to celebrate Memphis music past and present, and how it is “intrinsically tied to dance.”

The first of the three works is a restaging of Memphis, an original ballet that has deep historical significance for the company and uses music by B.B. King, The Staples Singers, and Al Green among others.

For the second ballet in the program, guest choreographer and former Ailey II dancer Alia Kachechose to use music by native Memphian Julien Baker, who received critical acclaim for her first solo studio album, 2015’s Sprained Ankle, and recorded her second full-length album Turn Out the Lights at Ardent Studios for Matador Records.

The final piece of the program is a collaboration with the Memphis label Unapologetic. Ballet Memphis Associate Artistic Director Steven McMahon has choreographed brand new work using the music of several of the artists on the label. IMAKEMADBEATS, Cameron Bethany, Kid Maestro, C Major, PreauXX and Aaron James will join the dancers for surprise live performances at half of the seven shows. You won’t know which until showtime.  

Learn more about each of the pieces and check out the Spotify playlists to hear some of the music that will be used in the show.

Via Ballet Memphis:

 The Memphis Project – commissioned nearly 20 years ago, this collection of new work set to and inspired by Memphis music and stories – is what put Ballet Memphis on the map, earning the Company recognition by the Ford Foundation and garnering invitations to stages around the world. The first piece, Memphis, by Trey McIntyre was the inaugural piece of the project. Trey, who served for several years as the Choreographer-in-Residence at Ballet Memphis, has returned to the city to reset the work on the current Company.

Unrest, by Alia Kache, is her personalized answer to the fracturing of society post-2016 election. She felt alone, shut out and like people had let her and her voice down, so she presents a piece that answers that feeling, going from chaos to community coming together and healing. Alia chose the music of Memphis native and rising star Julien Baker to set her work. Alia is a native of Chattanooga and a former dancer with Ailey II. She currently works as a freelance choreographer.

Ballet Memphis’ Associate Artistic Director Steven McMahon created his new work Unapologetic, based on the eponymous Memphis record label’s creed on how to live life unapologetically and some of the traits you need to do that: discipline, fearlessness, individuality, vulnerability and community. Steven feels like these are the traits that Ballet Memphis possesses in how they aim to do things differently, from creating thematic work to the way the Company looks and what they believe. Although each of the five segments, approximately four minutes long each, can stand alone, all five work together.

FALL MIX PERFORMANCES – All will be at Ballet Memphis, 2144 Madison Avenue in Midtown.

  • Friday, Oct 26, 8p
  • Saturday, Oct 27, 8p
  • Sunday, Oct 28, 2p
  • Thursday, Nov 1, 8p + spark! discussion before the show
  • Friday, Nov 2, 8p
  • Saturday, Nov 3, 8p
  • Sunday, Nov 4, 2p

Tickets are $25 for evening performances and $15 for matinees. You can add on a VIP Green Room Experience: one hour before every performance, for signature cocktails, behind-the-scenes Memphis Project content and Ballet Memphis swag for $25 more.

Get tickets at or at the Ballet Memphis Box Office, 901-737-7322.