Music for the Eyes: Basil Twist’s “Symphonie” Returns

The genius puppeteer brings back his bedazzling mix of classical thunder and mind-blowing objects.

Photo by Richard Termine

Take a piece of cloth. Maybe it’s a pretty shade of pink with a sparkly beaded fringe. Then get some water. Submerge the cloth. Now put on some thundering classical music. Move the cloth in time to the music. Baby, you’ve got a show! It may not be Symphonie Fantastique, the utterly original, eye-dazzling spectacle returning to HERE after 20 years, but you get the idea.

Basil Twist
Photo by Brandon Hardy

Puppeteer prodigy Basil Twist—winner of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”—made an unlikely hit out of such humble elements in 1998. The brilliant Twist choreographed an underwater ballet in a 500-gallon tank using a dizzying array of objects fashioned from vinyl, plastic, feathers, and other textiles, augmented by squirting dyes, bubbles, and crazy light effects. For a soundtrack, Twist chose Hector Berlioz’s 1830 orchestral piece called, yes, Symphonie Fantastique. (Rumor has it the composer wrote some of it while high on opium.)

This new limited run celebrates Symphonie’s 20th anniversary (and HERE’s 25th) and will feature a live piano accompaniment by Christopher O’Riley. It’s the perfect show to take a date (and not worry about plot) or a kid for maximum cool-aunt or -uncle points. Whether you love puppets or classical music or just getting your mind blown, it’s bound to be a fantastic time.

Why You Should Go: Amazing treats for the ears and eyes await at this watery puppet spectacle.

Symphonie Fantastique
145 Sixth Avenue (between Dominick and Spring Streets), SoHo
Thursday, March 29–Sunday, June 17

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