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World Premiere of Fantasque – John Heginbotham and Amy Trompetter’s New Ballet for Dancers and Puppets – Launches Bard SummerScape 2016 (July 1–3)

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY: Bard SummerScape 2016 launches on July 1 with the world premiere of Fantasque, a major new commission for dance and puppetry that marks the first collaboration between two significant creative artists. Set to the music of Respighi and Rossini, Bard’s new ballet for audiences of all ages pairs original choreography from Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award-winner John Heginbotham with puppetry and design by Amy Trompetter, longstanding doyenne of the puppet theater world. Fantasque will be presented in three performances on July 1–3, in Sosnoff Theater in the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center on Bard College’s glorious Hudson River campus.

As in previous seasons, SummerScape 2016 draws inspiration from the Bard Music Festival, which this year celebrates “Giacomo Puccini and His World.” Two other major forces in 20th-century Italian music provide the score for Fantasque, in which solo piano pieces from Gioachino Rossini’s Péchés de vieillesse and (as transcribed by Franz Liszt) Les soirées musicales intermingle with orchestral excerpts from La Boutique fantasque. Originally composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with choreography by Léonide Massine, the beloved ballet score is the work of Puccini’s contemporary Ottorino Respighi, who based it on Péchés de vieillesse. John Heginbotham says: “The music is so beautiful and funny, and kind of dry and occasionally sarcastic, but it’s all very gentle and benevolent – there’s a great generosity in the music.

Artistic Director of Dance Heginbotham, his New-York-based company, Heginbotham previously appeared at SummerScape as a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, and it was he who choreographed last year’s hit production of Oklahoma! As the New York Times affirms, he has “a true theater artist’s instinct for commanding his audience.” About Fantasque, he explains:

“The piece is a series of vignettes that show a world heading for extinction unless we change course. We establish a world, and throughout the first act it becomes tainted. There’s a crisis, and then by the end of the performance the world has been redeemed by a new hope, a new voice, a new innocence.”

Together with a cast of dancers and puppeteers, the new ballet features larger-than life, custom-designed puppets by Amy Trompetter, who won acclaim with Bread and Puppet Theater before founding Hudson Valley’s own Redwing Blackbird Theater. Her previous projects include a production of The Barber of Seville that prompted the New York Times to note: “In Ms. Trompetter’s world, an aria gives room for a whole suite of choreographed movement.” About the upcoming premiere, she says:

“John and I are collaborating for the first time, and it’s glorious. Fantasque is inspired by the traditional Punch and Judy puppet theater, which is amoral.  Grownups are upset by it and kids love it, and then the grownups have to deal with that. This kind of theater explores who we are as human beings, and what we’re capable of. If it works it will bring a kind of catharsis, so that we’ll walk out of the theater feeling cleansed, understanding the possibility of our best selves, and how to live in a community.”

To realize their vision, she and Heginbotham draw on the talents of a stellar company of dancers who appear alongside puppeteers Gregory Corbino, Maura Gahan, and Bard College alum Gabriel Harrell. Under the “masterful lighting” (Village Voice) of Nicole Pearce, they will be costumed by Maile Okamura, of whom Heginbotham told the Wall Street Journal, “Whatever the piece is, she always has a brand new idea. Her ideas spur new ideas for me, too.” Interspersed with recorded excerpts from La Boutique fantasque, the music will be performed by pianist George Shevtsov, whose recording of the late piano works of Debussy and Boulez was named one of Rhapsody’s “Best of 2013.”
Three additional events will complement the production: an Opening Night Reception for Friends of the Fisher Center on July 1, a post-performance conversation on July 2, and a pre-performance talk on July 3.

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SummerScape has presented significant dance performances each summer since 2005. In 2013, to celebrate the centenary of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the festival co-commissioned A Rite, a new dance-theater piece from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and SITI Company, and 2014 saw the return to Bard of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, making its farewell tour of proscenium stages. Last season’s festival debut of Pam Tanowitz Dance prompted a five-star review in the Financial Times, while of its centerpiece – the world premiere of a new solo for Ashley Tuttle, set to the music of featured composer Carlos Chávez – the Arts Journal’s Deborah Jowitt observed:

“Tanowitz is remarkable for her skillful reimagining of formal devices. … What we see is a superb dancer firmly and gently on the prowl in a territory both familiar and unfamiliar. She wears her virtuosity as if it were made of silk.”
Dance at Bard SummerScape 2016
Fantasque (world premiere)
Choreography: John Heginbotham
Puppetry and design: Amy Trompetter
Music: Ottorino Respighi after Gioachino Rossini

(Excerpts from Rossini’s Péchés de vieillesse, Rossini & Liszt’s “La Danza [Tarantella napoletana],” from Soirées musicales de Rossini; and Respighi’s La Boutique fantasque. Recordings of La Boutique fantasque performed by the Liege Philharmonic used with permission from BIS Records, Sweden.)

Costume design: Maile Okamura
Lighting design: Nicole Pearce
Stage manager: Hellena Schiavo
Dancers: John Elrich, Kristen Foote, Lindsey Jones, Courtney Lopes, Weaver Rhodes, Elisa Schreiber, and Macy Sullivan
Puppeteers: Gregory Corbino, Maura Gahan, and Gabriel Harrell ’07
Piano: George Shevtsov
Sosnoff Theater
July 1 at 7:30pm
July 2 at 7:30pm
July 3 at 2 pm*

Tickets start at $25
Supplementary events
July 1: Opening Night Reception for Friends of the Fisher Center
July 2: Post-Performance Conversation
July 3: Pre-Performance Talk at 1pm
* Round-trip bus service from Manhattan is provided exclusively to ticket-holders for the matinee on Sunday, July 3. A reservation is required, and may be made by calling the box office at 845-758-7900 or by selecting this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. Find additional details at:


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This event was last updated on 06-10-2016