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.

 

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