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PDP presents WOLF-IN-SKINS: A Dance Opera Choreography by Christopher Williams with music by Gregory Spears

Philadelphia Dance Projects as part of their 2013 Dance Up Close series will be presenting WOLF-IN-SKINS a premiere with extracted scenes from a new Dance Opera choreographed by CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS and with music by GREGORY SPEARS.

Co-produced in collaboration with American Opera Projects and the Conwell Dance Theater of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music & Dance, ”Wolf-in-Skins” an epic “dance-opera by choreographer/puppeteer/dancerChristopher Williams and composer Gregory Spears is inspired by ancient themes of the “mythic hero’s journey” found in the faerie legends, folklore, and earliest literature of the Insular Celtic cultures.

The work’s dream-like libretto, written by Williams, bears witness to the initiation rites of a central hero character grappling with queer identity via bouts with supernatural agency, otherworldly passage, and transformation.  Driven by detailed choreographic, musical, visual, and poetic sequences supported by supertitles, the work interweaves dance, music, and visual design to define a ritualistic arena in which lost mythology may be re-imagined and embodied via contemporary performance.

Singers performing in a quasi-archaic English represent the work’s human characters on stage, whereas its “fay” characters, supernatural beings populating an antipodal netherworld, are embodied by dancers whose voices are produced by shadow figures singing in Welsh.

The complete work strives to dovetail the traditional performance genres of opera, dance, and theater to forge new territory as a unique performance hybrid – a 21st century magnum opus commingling the spirits of Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Four complete scenes from the work along with a extracted scenes in-progress will be presented from January 25th-26th, 2013 at the Conwell Theater via Philadelphia Dance Projects and American Opera Projects.  Costume Design is by Andrew Jordan, Ciera Wells, Christopher Williams, and Carol Binion, Lighting Design by Joe Levasseur and Set Design is by Tom Lee and Michael Wang.

Christopher Williams calls himself “a curious alchemist.” This new work, too, builds on an amalgam of forms visual art, theater, puppetry, and live music that link with contemporary dance rather than eclipse it.  This is an admixture with which Williams has become facile, yet remains ingenious, stimulated by symbiotic work with his creative collaborators and his extensive research in early literature.  An interesting element of Williams’ work is the way in which it finds affinities between certain obscure historical sensibilities and a contemporary “downtown” experimental aesthetic. In Williams’ world history, obscure texts, and pageantry always share a place of possibility and danger. He makes ancient themes seem avant-garde and relevant to contemporary culture.

Wolf In Skins
Conwell Dance Theater, Broad Street & Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
Friday, January 25, 2013 – 7:30pm
Saturday, January 26, 2013 – 2:30pm
Saturday, January 26, 2013 – 7:30pm
Ticket on Dance Box Office, click here

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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