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Friday, October 30, 2015

In Context: Hagoromo

featuring celebrated dancers Wendy Whelen and Jock Soto, comes to BAM November 3. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles and videos related to the show. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought below and by posting on social media using #WendyWhelan.

Program Notes

Hagoromo (PDF)


Hagoromo: Taking Flight (BAM Blog)
BAM's Susan Yung sits in to watch Wendy Whelan with her paler puppet doppelganger.

'Hagoromo' Features Steps Not Found on the Head of a Pin (New York Times)
Two dancers, two singers, 20 girls from the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, life-sized puppets, and six puppeteers are just the beginning of Hagoromo.

"Wendy Whelan Dances in Dries Van Noten in Hagoromo" (Vogue)
The Belgian fashion icon picked silk kimonos with lush color fades for the Hagoromo costumes.

Watch & Listen

Hagoromo Rehearsal (YouTube)
A Hagoromo puppet works on its moves with Wendy Whelan.

Wendy Whelan on Life After New York City Ballet (YouTube)
As the prima ballerina turns to modern dance, she’ll be focused on “losing the lightness” and “putting […] weight into the ground.”

Slow Dancing (YouTube)
High-speed cameras capture impeccable dance form in this film from Hagoromo director David Michalek.

Now your turn...

What did you think of the show? Were the puppets able dance partners? Will you be saying yes to more Noh theater from now on? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #WendyWhelan.


  1. There are no words for the beauty and imagination of the entire program.
    Having lived in Japan for five wonderful years it made me homesick.

  2. I don't get it.... Music interesting, singers good, puppets interesting sometimes, movement sometimes too s-l-o-w... (yes, I know that some of that is due to the Japanese influence, but I've seen many Japenese pieces over the years with all kinds of slow movement that were still riveting); movement just too ordinary, especially for dance, not that interesting.... People in audience were joking about "I fell asleep in the 3rd of the 4 hours..." Several people around me fell asleep. Lighting HORRIBLE (except for some of the effects on singers and back of theater); no sculptural aspects that would help movement SO MUCH; a little sculpting and a bit more mystery surrounding puppeteers sometimes would have been so helpful. The poor gentleman who had to do his solo in BRIGHT light that looked like old-fashioned bad tv studio lighting with all bright fill and no key light -- again, NO sculpting, no direction chosen from where the bright light was coming, no perceivable colors for contrast.... I've seen many many shows over the years at BAM Harvey (beginning with the Mahabharata back when the theater was still the Majestic), and never before seen one there with bad lighting. Shocking PARTICULARLY for dance, where many of the best lighting designers work regularly. All in all, alas, a big disappointment. Thankfully only 90 minutes (even though it did seem longer than that)....

  3. A huge disappointment! Nods to Noh theater were weak, and several sequences were too long. The highlight, if it can even be called that, was certainly the puppeteering, but this wasn't exploited enough. The dancing seemed not to have any purpose or direction, and some of the musicians were moving excessively- maybe they thought they were adding drama? Whatever the reason, it fell flat.

  4. the incredible Wendy Whelan, ladies and gentlemen!

  5. I want to rave about this performance. Members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) brought Nathan Davis's music to life in almost 3D form. Add to that, the gorgeous vocals by tenor, Peter Tansits, and contralto, Katalin Károlyi. Watching Wendy Whalen walk, let alone dance, is truly like watching the angel she portrays in this piece. She is a beautiful, ethereal wraith. Her longtime dance partner, Jock Soto, is completely believable as the earthy fisherman. The puppeteers echoed Wendy's movements with two puppets cast from her own body. The effect was otherworldly. The costumes by Dries Van Noten were dyed in ombré gradations of indigo blues, peaches, oranges and lilac (or so it appeared under the stage lighting) and cut in perfectly simple Asian silhouettes. Stunning. Eighty minutes passed by in a heartbeat. I hope you were there.

  6. First thing, the work coheres: the many elements come together. Second, its strength is in restraint and understatement, something MacCaulay (sic) in his oceanically malign review failed to get. Well yes some aspects worked better than others. The score and music performers were magnificent, the set design less so: that plywood combo board background did nothing for me. Then Wendy: well here too there was a fine minimalism to her movements, as she worked her way deep into the legend. Her style and character were impeccable. The choreography worked less well for Soto: those blue bermudas didn’t help. But in a canvas so vast there will be some flaws and imperfections. What matters to the audience is the accumulated power, the artistic marksmanship, the gripping unflowering of the fable.


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