Magazine article Dance Magazine

On the Move: Two American Artistic Directors Are Taking over Major International Troupes

Magazine article Dance Magazine

On the Move: Two American Artistic Directors Are Taking over Major International Troupes

Article excerpt

SEPTIME WEBRE, Hong Kong Ballet

A beloved figure at The Washington Ballet, Septime Webre directed the company for 17 years with an eye toward inclusiveness, racial diversity, and the shaping of a repertory with a little something for everybody. He stepped down in June 2016. "I wanted to spend a period of time as an artist," he says. It turned out to be a shorter period than planned. Webre is now taking over a troupe halfway around the world. With around 50 dancers, Hong Kong Ballet is roughly twice the size of his former home, and state-funded. He'll keep a foot in DC, curating a summer performance series for Halcyon Stage, a program he launched this year under the auspices of the larger creative organization called Halcyon.

Webre knew the Hong Kong Ballet, though not intimately, from its recent U.S. tours. Its repertory is a mix of classics and existing works by familiar choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. Webre plans to keep the classics but increase the number of ballets created on the dancers, with a focus on works that reflect the culture of the region. And he'll continue to make his own ballets on HKB. Already, he is thinking about putting together programs inspired by Chinese and Hong Kong literature, and the mix of fashion, pop and contemporary art for which the island is known. As he puts it: "I want the company to reflect Hong Kong's status as Asia's most cosmopolitan city." Ever the enthusiast, he has already chosen a Chinese name: Wai Sing Tin, which means "He who protects the sun or talent. …

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