Philadelphia Dance Projects, in partnership with American Opera Projects, presents an “Informance” presentation of Wolf-in-Skins, the original dance opera by choreographer Christopher Williams and composer Gregory Spears, on Wednesday, November 29 and Thursday, November 30 at 7:30 PM at Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center.
The culmination of a creative artist residency to further development of Wolf-in-Skins, this Informance is a work-in-progress showing where dancers, singers and musicians will perform sections from the work and then participate in a conversation about the work, their ideas and inspirations with the audience. Philadelphia Dance Projects presented the first act of Wolf-in-Skins in 2013, and this work-in-progress presentation reunites many of the singers and dancers who participated in the previous first act workshop.
In Wolf-in-Skins, kings, foundlings, wolves, hounds, fay milkmaids and other mythical characters fill the dance opera that draws inspiration from a cycle of Welsh romance tales. Preserving pre-Celtic and pre-Christian elements, it views marginalized or outmoded cultural relics through a contemporary lens.
Tickets at $10.00 each can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, online at kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling 215-790-5883.
“We are very excited to be working again with Christopher Williams and Gregory Spears, two of the most anomalous creative artists today in helping to develop further this work which so ingeniously explores the relationship between dance and opera ,” said Philadelphia Dance Projects’ director Terry Fox.
Philadelphia Dance Projects’ mission is to support contemporary dance through projects that encourage artists and audiences to more fully participate and engage in the experience and pursuit of dance as an evolving form. Throughout it almost 20 year history PDP has presented workshops, performances, films, educational school residencies, teaching artists groups, and sponsored dance artists exchanges nationally and internationally. Its current projects include The Local Dance History Project, an online archive of Philadelphia dance history in partnership with the Special Collections Research Center Temple University.
Wolf-in-Skins is supported in part by The National Endowment for the Arts, William Penn Foundation, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, PA Partners in the Arts Project Stream administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and individual donors. In addition Wolf-in-Skins was developed in part by American Opera Projects’ First Chance and Dance Opera Initiative programs, supported by funding through the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Rehearsal space provided in part by The A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Christopher Williams is a critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer and puppeteer who has created over thirty original and collaborative works in New York City and abroad since 1999. In addition to touring internationally in France, England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Colombia, and Russia, as well as nationally in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Princeton, Carlisle, and Interlochen, his works have been presented in many New York City venues including Lincoln Center, City Center, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, La MaMa, P.S. 122, HERE Arts Center, the 92nd Street Y, Dance New Amsterdam, Joyce SoHo, Symphony Space, Galapagos Art Space, BRIC Studio, Dixon Place, One Arm Red, The John Ryan Theater, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, Solar One, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Mulberry Street Theater, Judson Church, as well as in the Late Night Cabaret of the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater, and via American Opera Projects in OPERA America′s New Works Forum.
Williams has been commissioned by the Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles/Opéra National de Bordeaux, English National Opera, Teatro Real/Perm Opera & Ballet Theater, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, the Harkness Dance Center, Philadelphia Dance Projects, American Opera Projects, the Harkness Repertory Ensemble, 10 Hairy Legs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Bates Dance Festival, as well as the Dream Music Puppetry Program. His collaboration with director Michel Fau and musical director Raphaël Pichon on a production of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Dardanus presented at the Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles won the Grand Prix du Syndicat de la Critique 2015 in the category of “Best Spectacle Lyrique of the Year” and his collaboration with Peter Sellars on a new adaptation of Henry Purcell’s The Indian Queen presented at The Bolshoi Theater won five Golden Mask Awards in Moscow. Williams received a New York Dance & Performance “Bessie” Award in 2005 for his work Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (2005) and an impromptu Ishmael Houston-Jones “Messie” Award for his work The Golden Legend (2009), which was listed among the 10 best dance performances of 2009 in The New Yorker.
Williams has been awarded fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Center for Ballet and the Arts, the Bogliasco Foundation for multiple residencies at the Liguria Study Center for Arts & Humanities in Bogliasco, Italy, and received a Bessie Schönberg Memorial Endowed Fellowship for a residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. He has also been awarded an EtM Choreographer + Composer Residency via Exploring the Metropolis, and has been granted creative residencies at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Joyce SoHo, Dance New Amsterdam, White Oak Plantation, The Yard, Bates Dance Festival, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mt. Tremper Arts, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, on Captiva Island via the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, through Movement Research, the Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y, the HERE Artist Residency Program, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland, and at Yaddo where he was named for the Charles and Candace Wait Residency in 2014.
Gregory Spears (Composer) music work has been called “astonishingly beautiful” (The New York Times), and “coolly entrancing” (The New Yorker). In recent seasons, he has been commissioned by The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, New York Polyphony, The Crossing choir, trumpeter Brandon Ridenour and the JACK Quartet among others.
Spears’ most recent evening length opera, Fellow Travelers, was written with playwright Greg Pierce and premiered in 2016 at Cincinnati Opera. It will be performed this season at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Prototype Festival, and Minnesota Opera. It was hailed as “one of the most accomplished new operas I have seen in recent years” (Chicago Tribune) and an opera that “seems assured of lasting appeal” (The New York Times). A commercial recording was released on the Fanfare Cincinnati label in fall of 2017..
Spears’ children’s opera Jason and the Argonauts, written with Kathryn Walat, premiered in the summer of 2016 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and was subsequently performed on tour the following fall. His opera about space exploration, O Columbia, was written in collaboration with Royce Vavrek and premiered in 2015 at Houston Grand Opera.
Spears and Walat’s first opera, Paul’s Case, was described as a “masterpiece” and a “gem” (New York Observer) with “ravishing music” (New York Times). It was developed by American Opera Projects, premiered by Urban Arias in 2013, restaged at the PROTOTYPE Festival, and presented in a new production by Pittsburgh Opera in 2014. Spears has won prizes from BMI and ASCAP as well as awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Vagn Holmboe Competition, Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony. His music is published by Schott Music and Schott PSNY.
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