Sleepy Hollow Takes the Stage

Onuki with Brooklyn Mack in British Invasion. Photo by Paul Wegner, Courtesy TWB.

 

Washington Irving's spooky tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman has long enchanted readers. And today through Feb. 22, The Washington Ballet presents the world premiere of Septime Webre's full-length Sleepy Hollow at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The brand-new story ballet is sure to haunt with witches, ghosts, life-size horse puppets and, of course, a Headless Horseman. For Pointe's biweekly newsetter, we spoke with TWB leading dancer Maki Onuki, who plays Katrina Van Tassel, before the premiere.

How would you describe this version of Sleepy Hollow?

It's a very fun production, and it feels more like a Broadway musical or a movie. There's a lot of wow factor in it, including two really big horse puppets operated by the dancers.


The ballet starts out with the Salem Witch Trials. How does that connect with the rest of the narrative?

The story of Sleepy Hollow is short, so Septime added the Salem witches as a backstory. It starts with three witches who get burned onstage, and their souls get stuck in a book that Ichabod Crane has. If he's having a dream, those witches always come to him.

 

What's the most challenging part of portraying Katrina?

The acting. She likes two men and she also has a pas de deux with the Headless Horseman, so I'm learning to show the different sides of her with each guy and in each pas de deux.


What's it like dancing with the Headless Horseman?

He doesn't want Katrina to see him because he doesn't want her to know that he has no head. So he's covering her eyes for the whole pas de deux. The movement is very slow, and it's more mysterious and softer.

 

 For even more interviews, tips, audition info and giveaways, sign up for our FREE e-newsletter.


Latest Posts


Margo Moritz, Courtesy Alonzo King LINES Ballet

How Adult Students Can Prep for a Safe Return to the Studio

After a year (or more) of virtual classes, it's finally time to unplug and head back to the studio.

Exciting? Absolutely. A little scary? Definitely.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Feeling Unchallenged? Here’s How to Advocate for Advancement in Your Company

You're performing well year after year, but you're still not being cast in larger roles. Your work ethic and technique are strong, but, for some reason, your director hasn't approached you about advancing in the company. Many dancers face this very dilemma—they're ready for a new challenge, but featured roles or a promotion don't seem to be on the horizon.

When opportunity doesn't knock first, it may be time to approach the door and do some knocking of your own. "I've been having those conversations with my director since I joined, which is rare," says Amanda Morgan, a fifth-year corps de ballet dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She believes directors are waiting for dancers to advocate for themselves. If you're wondering how you can be more proactive, here are a few questions to help prompt your preparation.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Katie Ging Photography, Courtesy Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh

Why This School Decided to Hold Its "Nutcracker" in June

A growing Christmas tree. Angels and mice. Flowers and a sugarplum. Snow. Last week, the curtain rose on a festive performance of The Nutcracker…in June?

The pandemic has brought all sorts of odd workarounds for dance studios, from virtual classes to outdoor performances. But when COVID-19 threatened Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh's annual Nutcracker, the school decided to make an especially bold pivot: to hold it in early June, when most schools are doing their end-of-year summer recitals.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks