Modern Dancer Alison Clancy Takes On Wagner At The Metropolitan Opera

By: Feb. 18, 2020
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Modern Dancer Alison Clancy Takes On Wagner At The Metropolitan Opera

Alison Clancy - an accomplished contemporary dancer fluent both in high-brow and downtown style - will be making her debut as a soloist at The Metropolitan Opera during the overture of Richard Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer. In this New York premiere, directed by François Girard and choreographed by Carolyn Choa, Clancy takes center stage at the venerable NYC institution in a dance prologue, created especially for this staging, in which she is a psycho-spiritual embodiment of Senta, the opera's leading lady.

Clancy's barefoot solo introduces the epic Gesamtkunstwerk of this new production, set against sweeping video projections by Peter Flaherty (who previously worked with Girard at the Met on the critically-acclaimed Parsifal). Der Fliegende Holländer runs March 2 to 27, 2020. For more information and tickets, visit

For Alison Clancy, who divides her time between dance and multidisciplinary artistic ventures, a typical day starts in the ballet studio of The Met and ends with a microphone and guitar at a hipster dive bar, gallery, or fashion show. She is well known to modern dance audiences for her work with Zvi Dance where she is a company member. Alison has been performing at the Metropolitan Opera for the last decade as part of the ensemble in productions directed by William Kentridge, Des McAnuff, Sir David McVicar and Michael Mayer, among others. For her premiere featured dance solo to the Overture for Wagner's monumental opera, she combines her trademark raw, expressive athleticism with the restrained poetics of Carolyn Choa's choreography. The never-before-seen 11-minute solo, developed during one-on-one studio sessions with Choa, is a portrayal of the lovelorn heroine of Der Fliegende Holländer.

Clancy explains: "Wagner's Senta dreams of stopping the stars, changing fate, of being the one true love who can save Holländer from his curse. I hope to embody her as more than specifically Holländer's love interest; I am thinking of her as the archetype of fiercely gentle feminine love, a woman dreaming of a poetic life and navigating her own contradictions: fragility/strength, restlessness/patience. While creating this performance, I'm inspired by medieval maidens, anime warrior princesses, the Statue of Liberty, mystic dreamers - a wide range of powerful female characters. I hope to find my power in a kind of softness and vulnerability. It is an immense gift to work with Carolyn Chao and have her trust for this world-premiere solo. I have long admired her astonishingly elegant and transcendental approach. We'd never worked together before, but the process feels natural and effortless as we share many influences from both aesthetic and ritualistic dance languages. When it all comes together, it's going to be me dancing with epic projections and the sweeping music played by one of the most amazing orchestras in the world. For these few distilled moments in time, I will try with all my heart to honor the alchemical possibilities."


Photo © 2020 Andrew T. Foster


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