Just before Christmas 2020, an exhibit titled Les Colombes moved into the National Cathedral’s nave. Created by artist Michael Pendry, the installation featured nearly 2,000 origami doves hanging from the 100-foot ceiling. Though the cathedral had yet to reopen to the public, the display represented hope.
Within months, Washington Ballet dancers performed “Unbound” beneath these doves suspended in flight. The dance’s choreographer Tamas Krizsa, tells City Paper that he took inspiration directly from the origami, his dance telling the story of a bird finally released from its cage.
Unbound will be performed at CityCenterDC nightly from June 3 to 4, as part of the Washington Ballet’s Dance For All events. This interview is the third of three Q&As with local dancers ahead of the free performances. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
WCP: According to your bio, you graduated from dance school in 2002. How long have you been dancing ballet, and how did you come to Washington Ballet?
Tamas Krizsa: I have been dancing ballet over 20 years. I sent an audition tape to the Washington Ballet—yes, it was VHS!—and got selected.
WCP: Choreographers start with music, a creative concept, even an old story or a feeling. How did you begin “Unbound?”
TK: Each project requires a slightly different order of preparation. “Unbound” started with a creative concept, actually an artwork called Les Colombes, which means Doves. [It] was set up in the National Cathedral and [TWB] was commissioned to create a site-specific work around it. Then we worked with TWB friend Blake Neely, who is a Grammy-winning Hollywood composer, to create original music that fit. Finally, with all these inspirations, we added the choreography.
WCP: What was it like stepping into the choreographer role?
TK: It’s humbling and rewarding.
WCP: Can you describe a particular moment in the choreographic process where things snapped into place? Or a moment that you’re particularly proud of?
TK: I’m always happy to come up with certain things that I have never seen and [that] seems unusual. I really like the beginning of “Unbound.”
WCP: How did you choose the music for this piece?
TK: Luckily, we have a pretty good relationship with Blake so most of my music worries are usually taken care of by him.
WCP: Tell us about the costumes.
TK: The concept is very simple for this piece. The artwork was featuring origami doves so we just needed something all white and simple.
WCP: What do you hope viewers will take away from seeing your work?
TK: This work was first created in the pandemic and it debuted in May 2021 as the first indoor event where performance was allowed in D.C. This combined with the doves artwork really influenced the piece. The ballet is about a dove that has been in a cage for quite some time and finally the cage is opening. She could try out her wings and experience the freedom we long for. All dancers felt the same way during the pandemic so it does have some metaphorical meaning as well.
Dance For All Performances at CityCenterDC start at 6 p.m. on June 3 and 4 at CityCenterDC. washingtonballet.org. Free.