Wolf-In-Skins: Q&A with Christopher Williams

Last week I attended a musical rehearsal of Wolf-In-Skins.  The singers are wonderful and music beautiful!  It is exciting to see the elements of this work as they unfold. It is so expressive of a primal and ancient longing of the co-joining of animal, human and spirits worlds. Don’t miss this amazing dance opera. Get your tickets now…See you there!   ~Terry Fox, PDP Director

Why is the show called Wolf-in-Skins?
Christopher Williams
: Wolf-in-Skins is actually an epithet that the King character from my libretto gives to a “foundling in the wood” character in scene two of the work. This foundling ends up being the libretto’s main hero.  For me, the epithet refers loosely to the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” of idiomatic fame, the fanciful epithets found in many ancient stories and more recent fairy tales such as Peau d’Ane and Le Chat Botté, but also hints at the darker overtones we associate with lycanthropy and sacrificial ritual.

Can you describe your jumping off point for this work? How did you get the idea, how did you work to develop it?
: The conceptual idea for Wolf-in-Skins was born in part from the experience I had making a large work in 2009 entitled The Golden Legend. The most ambitious of my productions inspired by ancient texts, The Golden Legend had particular impact on the form of this new, more in depth collaboration with [composer] Gregory Spears.  It was the grand scale and scope of this three-hour piece (integrating 23 male dancers, 2 movement choruses, 5 puppeteers and a chamber ensemble including singers and period instruments) that led us to imagine the all-inclusive “dance-opera” format that comprises Wolf-in-Skins.

How does Wolf-in-Skins connect to your other work?
: I have increasingly included elements from various artistic genres in my dances over the years.  I’ve always noticed an intricate harmony between seemingly disparate forms due to their common potential for movement.  The body of a dancer can move independently or become an armature, musical vessel, visage or even a sort of time machine in my work. Arriving at “dance-opera” as a vessel to house the multi-faceted, collaborative work I am interested in making feels like I have finally found a form that can encompass all that I envision on stage.

How has working with both musicians and dancers affected your creative process?
: Working with dancers and musicians in the same process has opened new doors of potential for me with regards to the musicality of dancing and the physicality of singing.
Exploring unfamiliar physical territory with the singers has allowed for a beautiful honesty and vulnerability in their performances.  Exploring a strict musicality with the dancers has allowed for the appearance of further refined physical nuances in their performances. These “heightened states” for both types of performers constantly spark new ideas for me as I stage them, which is immensely satisfying creatively.

Learn more about Christopher Williams work online at ChristopherWilliamsDance.org

Published on January 16, 2013 - 10:10pm