American puppeteer. Basil Twist is a third generation puppeteer (his grandfather conducted a swing band and included marionettes in the show). He attended Oberlin College in Ohio and continued his studies in New York. In 1993, Basil Twist graduated from the 3-year training programme at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM) in Charleville-Mézières, France. He has worked and performed with Roman Paska, Julie Taymor, Theodora Skipitares, and Janie Geiser.
His award-winning works include Araneidae Show (1994), Symphonie Fantastique (1998), and Petrushka (2001). Master Peter’s Puppet Show (2002) played at the Lincoln Center in New York, and travels in Japan inspired Dogugaeshi (2004). Symphonie Fantastique by Basil Twist has been described as “a spectacle of abstract form, materials, and movement”. The Hector Berlioz music inspired Basil to create choreography for fabric moving in a 500-gallon tank of water. Dance critic Deborah Jowitt noted, “luminous objects swim around”, “swirls of red silk”, “a lovely, magical show”. Symphonie Fantastique was a major success, which played for almost two years in New York and travelled internationally.
Basil Twist worked with the company Mabou Mines (director Lee Breuer) as puppeteer for Peter and Wendy (1999) and collaborated on Red Beads (2001-2002). Other collaborations include Behind the Lid with Lee Nagrin and Long Christmas Ride Home (2003) with playwright Paula Vogel. Basil Twist worked on the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade for several years. In 2006, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
In 1998, Basil Twist founded the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE Arts Center in New York. The Program commissions new works for the 78-seat theatre and presents many new short works every year at the informal Puppetry Parlor. Works since 2004 include: La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco (Sleeping Beauty in the Woods, by Ottorino Respighi, Spoleto Festival, Charleston, North Carolina, 2005); Hansel and Gretel (Houston Grand Opera, 2006); Arias with a Twist (with Joey Arias, 2008); The Addams Family Musical (2010); Street Car Named Desire (with Lee Breuer, Comédie-Française, 2011).
(See United States of America.)