THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Septime Webre

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People

Webre has been the artistic director of the Washington Ballet for 13 years and co-choreographed the collaborative production of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." The Washington Ballet worked with Janet Stanford and Matthew Pierce from Imagination Stage to create the fantasy-based dance-theater-musical production, which premiered Wednesday.

How did the idea come about for the production?

It was my favorite book as a child, and I long thought it would make a really great dance. I called Janet Stanford two years ago to suggest we work together on the project. Ultimately we returned to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Has the Washington Ballet collaborated with a musical production before?

About 10 years ago, we collaborated with the Arena Stage. This is the first time, though, that the realization has been so complete with actors, singers and dancers.

What was the main inspiration for the choreography for this production?

Without a doubt, the characters. The action is so vivid and robust. All of these elements suggest physicality.

What styles of dance can the audience anticipate seeing during the show?

I think we call it contemporary ballet. David Palmer and I co-choreographed all the steps. There's a naturalism that feels like contemporary, but the lines are very classical. We wanted to introduce the children to the world of dance, to the world of ballet.

Were there any difficulties adding a dance portion to C.S. Lewis' story line?

I think the biggest challenge was the four children, who are played by both dancers and actors, and to have them on stage was a collaborative process. This is also the first time I've ever choreographed for a 16-foot lion. One of the marvels of the production is that the puppet and set designer Eric Van Wyck designed some magnificent puppets, including Aslan, who is controlled by three puppeteers.

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