Choreography, direction and libretto by Christopher Williams
Music by Gregory Spears
About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


”Wolf-in-Skins” is an evening-length “dance-opera” choreographed and directed by Christopher Williams and composed by Gregory Spears. Kings, foundlings, wolves, hounds, fay milkmaids and other mythical characters fill this dance opera that draws inspiration from a cycle of Welsh romance tales that preserve pre-Celtic and pre-Christian elements. It views marginalized or outmoded cultural relics, celebrating the “otherness” inherent in early Welsh literature, through a contemporary lens.

Driven by choreographed operatic sequences supported by supertitles, the work combines live music, dance, puppetry, and visual design to re-imagine lost mythology as a staged ritual. Singers performing in a quasi-archaic English represent the libretto’s human characters, whereas dancers embody its supernatural characters. A choir of shadow figures singing in Welsh represents the voices of the supernatural characters. The complete work strives to dovetail the traditional live performance genres of opera, dance, theater, and puppetry into a visual, sonorous, and spatial "polyphony" that forges new territory as its own performance hybrid carrying forward the tradition of Wagnerian “Gesamtkunstwerk” and Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes.”

Wolf-in-Skins is currently in development in American Opera Projects’ “First Chance” and “Dance Opera Initiative” programs, supported by funding through the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and in partnership with Philadelphia Dance Projects, supported in part by The National Endowment for the Arts, the William Penn Foundation and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

Additional development of Wolf-in-Skins has been supported in part by funds from the 92nd Street Y New Works in Dance Fund, the Greenwall Foundation, and the O’Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation and provided through residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, One Arm Red, Dance New Amsterdam, the Joyce SoHo as part of a Rockefeller Dance-Theater Planning Residency, and at Watermill - a laboratory for performance.

Photo by Andrew Jordan


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Christopher Williams, hailed as "one of the most exciting choreographic voices out there" in The New York Times and "the downtown prodigy" in The New Yorker, is a choreographer, dancer, and puppeteer who has been devoted to crafting and performing choreographic works in New York City and abroad since 1999. His pieces have been presented at many New York City venues including Dance Theater Workshop, City Center, Danspace Project, P.S. 122, La Mama, the 92nd Street Y, and DanceNew Amsterdam, among others, and have toured nationally to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and internationally to Bogotá, Colombia. He has held artistic residencies at Movement Research, Joyce SoHo, Dance New Amsterdam, Djerassi, White Oak Plantation, Yaddo, The Yard, and the Liguria Study Center for Arts & Humanities in Bogliasco, Italy. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and has received multiple grants from the O'Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Jim Henson Foundation. In 2005, he received a New York Dance & Performance “Bessie” Award for his work Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, and has since performed for Tere O’Connor Dance, Douglas Dunn & Dancers, John Kelly, Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks, Rebecca Lazier's TERRAIN, Sally Silvers, Jon Kinzel, and Yvonne Meier, among others, as well as for puppetry artists Basil Twist and Dan Hurlin. He also serves on Danspace Project’s Artist Advisory Board.

Gregory Spears writes instrumental and vocal music that blends together stylistic aspects of romanticism, minimalism, and early music. His music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, the JACK Quartet, Center City Opera, the NOW Ensemble, Present Music Ensemble, So Percussion, and the Eighth Blackbird Ensemble. His opera Paul’s Case, developed by American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice Program, was noted for its “solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential” (Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns’ Best in Classical Music for 2009). Current projects include a one-act chamber opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco with a libretto by Farnoosh Moshiri and an evening-length opera based on the novel Fellow Travelers being written in collaboration director Kevin Newbury and writer Greg Pierce. New Amsterdam Records will release a recording of his Requiem in November 2011.

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Wolf-in-Skins Part One (work-in-progress excerpt) from Peter W Richards on Vimeo.

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Opera profile : "Opera and Dance: A Pas de Deux"

January 30, 2013 - THINKINGDANCE.NET
Opera review : WOLF-IN-SKINS, ACT ONE workshop, Philadelphia, PA

Opera review : WOLF-IN-SKINS, ACT ONE workshop, Philadelphia, PA

January 24, 2013 - EDGE PHILADELPHIA
Opera profile : "’Wolf-In-Skins’ :: New Dance/Opera Piece Gets Philly Outing"

Opera preview : "Wolf-In-Skins"

January 22, 2013 - TEMPLE NEWS
Opera profile : "Wolf-in-Skins ushers in start of the semester"

January 21, 2013 - THE DANCE JOURNAL
Opera profile : "Wolf-In-Skins previews at Philadelphia Dance Projects"

Opera profile : "Beasts of a Musical Wild"

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November 29 & 30, 2017 | 7:30 PM
Philadelphia Dance Projects and AOP First Chance present
Act Two Workshop Preview
SEI Innovation Studio at The Kimmel Center
300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia PA 19102
Performances by: Anthony Roth Costanzo, Marcus DeLoach, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, Nina Berman, Owen McIntosh with New Vintage Baroque ensemble.
Musical Director: Lindsay McIntosh

December 13, 2015
Suite from "Wolf-in-Skins"
MATA Festival in collaboration with AOP
National Sawdust
80 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

May 31, 2013
Christopher Williams Curates
Buttenweiser Hall
Harkness Dance Center at 92Y
1395 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

January 25th & 26th, 2013
Philadelphia Dance Projects and AOP First Chance present
Act One Workshop Preview
Conwell Dance Theater, Temple University
1801 North Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19122

June 16, 2012
The Watermill Center, in association with American Opera Projects, presents
Wolf-in-Skins Open Rehearsal
The Watermill Center - 39 Watermill Towd Road, Water Mill, New York
Singers: Rebecca Ringle
Dancers: Caitlin Scranton, Joanna Kotze, Storme Sundberg, Steven Zarzecki, Jordan Morley, Edward Rice, Aaron McGloin, & Raja Kelly
Costumes (in progress): Andrew Jordan, Carol Binion & Christopher Williams

November 10, 2011
Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College - 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Singers: Drew Santini, Evan Hughes, Nina Berman, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, & Ryland Angel
Dancers: Caitlin Scranton, Joanna Kotze, Storme Sundberg, Steven Zarzecki, Jordan Morley, Edward Rice, Aaron McGloin, & Raja Kelly
Violin I: Daniel Lee; Violin II: Dongmyung Ahn; Viola: Kyle Miller; Cello: Ezra Seltzer
Harp: Kristi Shade; Recorder: Rachel Begley; Electric Organ/Percussion: Gregory Spears
Costumes (in progress): Andrew Jordan, Carol Binion & Christopher Williams

September 8th, 2011
Douglas Dunn Studio - 541 Broadway, New York, NY
Singers: Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, Nina Berman, Ryland Angel, Drew Santini, Matt Boehler
Musicians: Larry Lipnik, Kristi Shade, Sebastian Str. Quartet (Daniel Lee, Alexander Woods, Kyle Miller, Ezra Seltzer)
Dancers: Steven Zarzecki, Jordan Morley, Samuel Wentz, Kira Blazek, Dylan Crossman, Jordan Isadore

October 20th, 2012
Yaddo Studio Crawl Performance
New York Live Arts Studios - 219 West 19th Street, New York, NY
Dancers: Burr Johnson, Kira Blazek, Kennis Hawkins, & Matthew Flatley
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