A one-of-a-kind under-water marvel combining the magic of puppetry with the powerful suggestions of music, dance and abstract art, Symphonie Fantastique is an intimate show set to the five movements of Hector Berlioz’s 19th century classical composition of the same name. The hour-long Symphonie is performed entirely in a specially constructed water tank. The puppeteers manipulate feathers, glitter, plastics, vinyl, mirrors, slides, dyes, blacklight, overhead projections, air bubbles, latex fishing lures to deliver a concert of forms, shapes and moving colors. Symphonie Fantastique premiered at HERE Arts Center in April 1998 and ran for two years.
Basil Twist is a third-generation puppeteer. His stunning creations have been featured in major museums, grand opera houses, Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals, off-Broadway dives, and drag shows, in work ranging from classic stories to abstract visualizations of orchestral music. His most famous piece, Symphonie Fantastique, employs a complex choreography of fabric, feathers, tinsel, and cutouts in a 500-gallon tank of water to evoke human characteristics and emotions which illuminate Berlioz’s score in unexpected ways. Twist’s wide-ranging and trailblazing body of work is informed by puppetry traditions from around the world, including hand puppets, bunraku, and string-and-rod marionettes, and is establishing puppetry as an integral element in all the performing arts. He is the only American to graduate from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette, the most famous puppet school in the world, and was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship in 2015.