Septime Webre on Art and Dance with a Macabre Flair

In anticipation of October’s Vampires vs. Zombies-themed Phillips after 5 event, artistic director of The Washington Ballet Septime Webre shares his personal take one of the more Halloween-appropriate works in The Phillips Collection, Delacroix’s Paganini (1831). Learn more about the painting in gallery talks on “The Dark Side of the Phillips” at 6 and 7 pm on October 4. 

I’ve always been fascinated by Delacroix’s portrait of  Paganini, a glamorously romantic figure. Niccoló Paganini, considered one of the greatest violinists to have ever lived, was a controversial figure in his day and rumors abounded that he was in a pact with the devil. He was even imprisoned for murder. Paganini’s remains were not allowed to be buried in a consecrated cemetery until five years after his death. Delacroix’s  painting captures perfectly the gothic and romantic spirit of The Washington Ballet’s company premiere of Dracula, and our Phillips after 5 collaboration.  In both, mystery, power, and a playful sense of the macabre reign!

Check out The Washington Ballet’s Studio Company and The Washington School of Ballet Students performing Thriller at THEARC in the video below.

Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet

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Overheard in the Galleries: Septime Webre on Degas

Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre discusses Degas's Dancers at the Barre. Photo: James Brantley

At a recent Phillips after 5, Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, provided a dancer’s point(e) of view on the Degas exhibition. At Dancers at the Barre he observed, “You see that this work is not about rehearsal. It’s about the moments in between rehearsals.” For Webre, Degas’s tendency to return to the same subjects ten times, or even a hundred times, reminded him of the dancer’s daily routine and the process of working and reworking movements to achieve harmony in the body. Webre quoted choreographer Merce Cunningham, who famously stated that to be a dancer “You have to love the daily working.”