Ballet Meets Country: Nashville Honors Chet Atkins with “Jitterbug Waltz” Video

photo courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum and Nashville Ballet have debuted a video performance to honor and celebrate the 100th anniversary of late Country Music Hall of Fame member Chet Atkins’ birth. The two nonprofit organizations created and released an original ballet performance, set to Atkins’ recording of the “Jitterbug Waltz,” on YouTube.

The three-minute performance video features a collaboratively curated original work performed by Nashville Ballet dancers, Cassandra Thoms and Shaiya Donohue, set to Atkins’ 1959 guitar presentation of the song from the album Chet Atkins in Hollywood.

Museum trustee and Atkins mentee David Conrad envisioned the video performance, which was choreographed and co-directed by Nashville Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Nick Mullikin and filmed in the museum’s Hall of Fame Rotunda, home to Country Music Hall of Fame members’ bronze plaques and Thomas Hart Benton’s “The Sources of Country Music.” Benton’s iconic mural represents the musical and cultural traditions that shaped country music and America, and the dancers’ costumes reference the dancers represented in Benton’s painting. The video also features a 1954 Standel 25L15 amplifier and a Gretsch Streamliner Special 6120 guitar model, which Atkins helped design — both which belonged to Atkins.

“Chet Atkins and his fellow members of the Country Music Hall of Fame’s indelible impact on American culture continues to inspire new generations of creators,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “In celebration of the centennial anniversary of Chet’s birth, we are honored to partner with the Nashville Ballet to showcase Chet’s enduring music and deserved recognition among the greatest guitarists of all time, while also uplifting the creativity and collaboration within Nashville’s nonprofit arts community.”

“It’s a true honor to be able to create a special piece of work for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate Chet Atkins,” said Nashville Ballet Artistic Director and CEO Nick Mullikin. “The opportunity to bring our two organizations together for this one-of-a-kind performance event not only exemplifies our commitment to excellence in the arts community, but honors the heritage of Music City as well.”

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