Basil Twist (CBA ’15), originally from San Francisco, is a third generation puppeteer and is the sole American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville- Mezieres, France. Twist is a 2015 MacArthur Fellow. Original productions include Symphonie Fantastique, La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco, Dogugaes, hi, Hansel and Gretel, Behind The Lid, Arias with a Twist, Seafoam Sleepwalk and The Rite of Spring. His Broadway credits include The Pee Wee Herman Show and The Addams Family. Collaborations include: in dance, The Winter’s Tale and Cinderella with Christopher Wheeldon, Darkness and Light with Pilobolus, and Wonderboy with the Joe Goode Performance Group; and in drama, Paula Vogel’s play The Long Christmas Ride Home, Mabou Mines, plus puppetry for the Oskar Eustis–directed Hamlet for New York’s Shakespeare in the Park. Twist worked with Kate Bush to realize her concert Before the Dawn. In film most notably he collaborated with Alfonso Curran on Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban. Recipient of an Obie, Drama Desk, New York Innovative Theatre, and Henry Hewes Design awards, as well as five UNIMA and two Bessie awards. He has also been awarded Guggenheim and USA Artists fellowships, and was most recently awarded a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He lives in NYC, where he guides The Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE Art Center.
Twist used his fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts to further his exploration of the choreography of inanimate materials and what makes something a ballet even if it is devoid of human dancers. Discovering more abstract forms of puppetry similar to what he has developed in previous shows like Symphonie Fantastique or Rite of Spring. Using silk as his primary material, Twist explored imbuing it with life and discovering its own inherent magical power and creating the conditions for this exquisite material to reveal its splendors. Twist is committed to developing new techniques in puppetry that match the beauty and fluid movement of dancers.