St. Catherine’s University’s Women of Substance series takes an imaginative leap with a new dance opera composed by Jocelyn Hagen about Katherine, the sister of Orville and Wilbur Wright, inventors of the airplane. Soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw plays the main role.
Choreographer Penelope Freeh shares “the choreography was initially very inspired images of the Wright Brothers and their early flyers. I worked with the iconic imagery and expanded it into both subtle gestures and lush dancing. This work means a lot to me in that dance is held on par with the music. Sometimes dancers advance our story, sometimes the string quartet and sometimes the singers. Traditional opera focuses on the arias and if dance is involved, it’s usually not essential to the storytelling. In Test Pilot, it is.”
Freeh adds “Two female dancers portray the airplane, perhaps the biggest imaginative leap. I liked having a puzzle like that to figure out as a choreographer.”
Orville and Wilbur are played by Nic Lincoln, known for his gay-themed dance work and Cory Goei, known for his work with James Sewell Ballet, play. They are joined on stage by Freeh and the legendary Stephanie Fellner of Ballet of the Dolls fame.
The Women of Substance Series
Sept. 12 & 13
O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Av., St. Paul