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Interview: Columbus Directors Talk TWISTED 2, Artistic Collaboration in the Capital City

(Left to Right): Karen Wing (BalletMet), Calvin Griffin
(Opera Columbus bass-baritone), and Caitlin Valentine-Ellis
(BalletMet). Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda

Local performing arts organizations are ready to present the next chapter of creative collaboration in Columbus with "Twisted 2."

Following up on the success of 2014's "Twisted" program, which showcased the talents of professional dancers, musicians and singers who performed together on one stage, BalletMet, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Opera Columbus are set to debut "Twisted 2" on Thursday, Sept. 22.

The show will run at the Ohio Theatre for four days.

Opera Columbus Artistic Director Peggy Kriha Dye said working with other organizations brings new challenges, but added that teamwork among directors and performers generates creative problem solving.

"Producing a show involving nearly 200 artists and three artistic directors is complicated, but incredibly rewarding," Dye said in an email. "Each organization brings to the table a highly specialized and refined standard of performance. Because my colleagues are so generous, we have learned from each other with great respect and truly twisted together our art forms to create something that is original and special to our city."

Rossen Milanov, music director for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, said "Twisted 2" will be the first collaboration he has worked on, as he joined the organization after the first "Twisted" was performed in 2014.

"I very much like cross-pollinating ideas, the presentation of well-known works, and particularly, the elevated role of the musicians as a partner on stage with other acts," Milanov said in an email.

Audiences can expect to hear compositions by Wagner, Haydn and Beethoven, as well as selections from operas like "Carmen," "The Barber of Seville" and "Porgy and Bess." As musicians perform these pieces and other favorites, dancers from BalletMet will make the lyric elements of the music come alive visually through choreography that mirrors musicality in movement.

(Left to Right): Karen Wing (BalletMet), Calvin Griffin
(Opera Columbus bass-baritone), and Caitlin Valentine-Ellis
(BalletMet). Photo Credit: Jennifer Zmuda

BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang said "Twisted 2" is modeled as a "review or 'best of'" program that tries to rethink how to stage and perform famous symphonic and operatic works.

"I think that we're trying to reinvent and think outside the box," Liang said in an email. "So yes, there is going to be more visual eye candy and production elements and hopefully more integration of the singers and dancers and still aiming high."

Dye said a Columbus Performing Arts Prize has enabled the directors to add elements to the show that were not present in the original "Twisted."

She said that WOSU Public Media will be incorporated into "Twisted 2" with film segments, and a new projection element will be used during the production.

"We have also invited four youth organizations to join us on stage, and they bring a vivacious and joyful energy to the show," she said.

All three directors agreed that the Columbus performing arts community is the perfect place in which to experiment with a show like "Twisted 2."

"The artistic and business climates in Columbus are in good sync. We all realize the importance of a city the size of Columbus to have a growing, progressive identity, as well as a cultural uniqueness," Milanov said. "That synergy acts as a catalyst for artistic experiments and for cultural events that are extremely inclusive and open to wide array of audiences."

Dye said the unified spirit that "Twisted 2" exudes is similar to the spirit of the city.

"The 'Columbus way' radiates support and partnership," she said. "With 'Twisted 2,' we are simply mimicking what Columbus has been doing in many sectors for years."

Liang said the positive reception of "Twisted" inspires the participating organizations and performers to deliver another memorable show.

"I think there is a little bit more pressure given that we were successful for the first round," he said. "I hope the Columbus audience comes and celebrates with all of us for 'Twisted 2' because it is a celebration of arts here in Columbus -- not just for the opera, the ballet and the symphony."

"Twisted 2" is scheduled to be performed at the Ohio Theatre Thursday, Sept. 22 - Sunday, Sept. 25.

Tickets can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center, located at 39 E. State St., as well as via Ticketmaster. Ticket prices and more information can be found on the Ticketmaster website.

The Ohio Theatre is located at 39 E. State St.

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