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A ballet inspired by the life and work of female surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning. Drawing on the otherworldly quality of her art - whimsical and menacing - and her depiction of female protagonists in domestic interiors that merge into dreamscapes.


"Birthday"  (Philadelphia Art Museum)


With Max Ernst


The choreography embodies visual imagery from Tanning's art:


Women in states of mid-transformation

Doorframes ajar

Stairways to nowhere

Bicycles merging with bodies

Bodies melting into one another or furniture.


Source material will also come from her writings - both poetry and memoir - and her passionate, unconventional 34 year relationship with fellow surrealist artist Max Ernst.


“Many years ago today

I took a husband tenderly

This simple human gentle act

Seen as a hard decisive fact

By all who dote on category

Did stain my work indelibly

I don't know why that is

For it has not stained his”


A fearless, shape-shifting creator who never stopped experimenting throughout her 101-year life. Self-taught in painting, she later wrote prose and poetry, and created soft sculptures with dancelike qualities. She also collaborated with Cranko and Balanchine on costume designs, including "La Sonnambula". Bodies, dance and movement are ever present in her work.


"The only trouble was that my family was very religious and I wanted to express myself. Dancing was considered sinful so I wasn't allowed to study ballet."

  • Vibe: Mid-century, fracturing into something stranger and more timeless.


  • Costumes: Details from Tanning’s own costume designs, without reproducing them literally. Oblique references to styles of the 40's and clothing in which she was photographed. Costumes may have layers that allow for removal, resulting in a barer look, referencing the oozing bodies imagery.

thoughtful group.jpg


TBD  / possibly combining tracks from a contemporary composer like Missy Mazzoli with older works by Erik Satie.  

OR a new score by Pauline Kim Harris.  Pauline is a classical violinist and experimental composer whose work combines fragments of older music with electronics to produce a otherworldly, ethereal musical landscapes. 

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