Friday, January 25, 2013 – 7:30pm Saturday, January 26, 2013 – 2:30pm Saturday, January 26, 2013 – 7:30pmImages: 

Wolf in Skins by Christopher Williams photo by Andrew Jordan
Wolf in Skins by Christopher Williams photo by Andrew Jordan

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/dancer Christopher 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 co-mingling 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 is by Joe Levasseur, and Set Design is by Tom Lee and Michael Wang.

Deborah Jowitt of the Village Voice relates that “In Christopher Williams’ world, the macabre and the beautiful wander hand in hand down byways of myth, legend, and history.”  

Dance Magazine Editor, Wendy Perron has said that Christopher Williams “….pulls you into an ancient world, mythic world,  a dream world where a woman might have a dragon clinging to her, or a man might have a small solar system above his head.  Christopher is an extraordinary dancer as he is a choreographer…it’s refreshing to see a choreographer who escapes today’s trends.” 

“A magical storyteller” – DanceView Times

“Christopher Williams’s wild imagination and boundless curiosity imbue his work with a rare richness and detail…His work is strange, twisted, and wonderful, and he is the rare choreographer…He is a thrill.” – Joan Acocella, The New Yorker


Christopher Williams

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.  Location: Conwell Dance TheaterNE corner of Broad Street & Montgomery AvenuePhiladelphia, PAPhone: 215-546-2552See map: Google Maps

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