Forever Young: Milwaukee Ballet's New Dorian Gray

O'Donnell as Dorian Gray. Photo by Nathaniel Davauer, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet.

 

Milwaukee Ballet artistic director Michael Pink's imaginative versions of narratives-turned-ballets have garnered him a second title: master storyteller. His latest adaptation, based on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, is the haunting story of a man who stays young as a portrait of himself grows old. The ballet runs through Feb. 21. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with company artist and choreographer-in-residence Timothy O'Donnell about playing Dorian.

How did you prepare?

I read Oscar Wilde's novel, and it was like a book club at work for a while. Michael was very clear that he wanted this to be a reflection of the original novel and not someone else's take on that, so I stayed away from all the Hollywood adaptations.


How do you get into character before the show?

I have to start out in a pretty good mood. Dorian goes through everything so deeply. There's romance but also tragedy. After the ballet, I feel completely spun out. It's like waking up from a terrible dream because I've been through so many heightened emotions.


The ballet features an actor who plays Lord Henry and serves as a narrator. What's it like adding him to the mix?

It's been fascinating. He's 100 percent incorporated into the show, which led to some of the most complicated scenes, like the rejection pas de deux with Sibyl Vane. Dorian decides he doesn't love her anymore. The interaction among the three of us was so difficult to put together since Lord Henry is talking while we're dancing. It took hours and hours and hours to create a four-minute pas de deux.


 

Since this is a new production, do you find it daunting or inspiring?

This is the best for me. My favorite thing to do is to be part of something that's fresh and still has room to evolve. There's always the normal fear of am I going to do my steps well, but I'm super-confident in this production.

 

Latest Posts


iStock

Ask Amy: My Parents Want Me to Get a Job and Cut Back on Dance Classes

I am thinking about pursuing a career in ballet. However, my parents have made it clear that at some point they want me to get a job, which they acknowledge would mean possibly dropping dance, or at least not taking as many classes. I agree that getting a job is important so that I'm able to make my own money, but dropping dance classes is the exact opposite of what will get me to where I want to be. Any suggestions? —Kaia

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks