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The 3-Minute Interview: Septime Webre

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Local,People,Caitlin Byrnes
Webre is artistic director of the Washington Ballet. "Rock and Roll," a premiere combination of three rock-themed ballets, previews on Wednesday and opens Thursday at Sidney Harman Hall.

Is ballet for everyone?

Absolutely. I think ballet is a pliable and flexible language, just like English. It's a language which can be used to express all sorts of things -- sometimes a supernatural swan, other times, as in the case of "Rock And Roll," it expresses very firmly the world around us.

Speaking of swans, everyone saw "Black Swan." Is that kind of pressure realistic?

Certainly the pressure is there from the first time we take a plie or tendu, but hopefully we as dancers deal with it in a more healthful way than Natalie Portman did.

What is your process when creating?

It's really different depending on the project. ... As a choreographer I created "Fluctuating Hemlines" [featured in "Rock and Roll"] in 1996 after having read Camille Paglia's scintillating "Sexual Personae." It said we are all animalistic and raw. One doesn't have to look deeply below the surface, behind our rules and etiquette, to see evidence of our wild animal selves. I thought this was an interesting premise.

What draws you to ballet?

I drove my sister to ballet school. ... I found the dancing itself really exhilarating, being able to express with my own body is amazing. I naturally gravitate toward storytelling and directing -- I was always organizing plays in the neighborhood as a kid. But I went to undergraduate expecting to go to law school.

How did you make the switch?

I got into the law school I wanted to get into, and about two weeks before I went I got a job at Ballet Austin and decided to defer. I started on a Monday and on that Friday I decided I wanted to move to New York and be a professional dancer, and I never looked back.

- Caitlin Byrnes

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