About the Company
PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER – under the artistic direction of Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig since 1987 – has gained an international following for work that transforms the familiar into the mysterious, the subversive, and the intimate. Creating and presenting "appealingly subversive, engaging, wry, and deeply affecting work” (The Washington Post), they have toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and New Zealand.
They are the recipients of a 2013 Dance Metro DC Award for Outstanding Overall Production in a Large Venue.
In New York City, their work has been produced by the major dance venues including Lincoln Center, the City Center Fall for Dance Festival, the Joyce Theater, Central Park SummerStage, Symphony Space, DTW, the Kitchen, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, P.S. 122, The 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project, and Dancing in the Streets. Foundation support includes the NEA, the Maryland State Arts Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Performance Network, the Rockefeller, Altria, Harkness, Jerome, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore, Leon Lowenstein, O’Donnell-Green, Puffin, Swiss Center, Sequoia, and Lifton Family Foundations, the American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program, the Asian Cultural Council, Arts International, and the USIA/USIS.
Video specials have appeared on the national television networks of India, South Korea, Mexico and Greece.
2014-15 engagements include a company tour to the Open Look Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, a new site-specific performance project inaugurating the Hammock Grove on Governors Island in New York City, and performances in Washington, DC, at the Kennedy Center, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and Dance Place.
In 12 evening-length works and over 30 company, duet, and solo works for the stage, Pearson and Widrig’s choreographic sensibility extends far beyond the body. The audience is as likely to see 300 oranges, swirling arcs of salt, or a 200lb block of ice being smashed – images that delightfully shock the senses and awaken the heart – as they are to be irresistibly drawn in by their "electrifying, lush, and delightful" dancing [Dance Magazine] and their "extremely original" movement vocabulary (Calcutta Times, India).
Through dance, text, and video, the ideas they explore range from the socio-political Unmoored (Love Letters to New Orleans) [“Heart-wrenching and wryly comic.” The Washington Post] and Do You Remember?, to the stylishly intense and virtuosic Take Me With You and Drama, to the contemplative Be Still, My Heart and Oashisu, to the hip and outrageous Kré, Kré, Kré, to the lush they are of threaded glass., to Sayonara, Dear, a minimalist ode to aging, to the poetic Thaw [“Carries enough everyday magic for several productions.” Eva Yaa Asantewaa], to the mystical The Return of Lot’s Wife ["Unfolds with the pulsating rhythm of a carefully crafted poem - one part Woody Allen narrative, one part prayer." The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, NY], to the historical Alpsegen [in which Mr. Widrig takes a critical look at his native Switzerland’s role during WWII], to their early, emotionally charged duets Partners Who Touch, Partners Who Don’t Touch and Heimweh (homesick), to the "Most amazing! Most enjoyable!" [The New York Times] Ordinary Festivals, which has been seen by over 25,000 people on three continents.
In their acclaimed site-specific installations and community performance projects, habitual assumptions of what art is, where art happens, and of who participates, are broken wide open. These projects have taken them from rowboats in Central Park to the Great Lawn at Jacob’s Pillow to the Eiun-In Buddhist temple in Kyoto to the modern architecture of I. M. Pei’s Portland Museum of Art, and to Wave Hill, the bucolic estate in the Bronx. Their most recent site-adaptive work, Paradise Pond, was a 90-minute colorful visual feast celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Bates Dance Festival. The work was described by festival director Laura Faure as “the most creative, transformative, visually beautiful and successful production we have ever mounted in our 25 year history.”
Elizabeth Zimmer of the Village Voice wrote of heir site-adaptive extravaganza A Curious Invasion: "In over a decade of watching Wave Hill events, I’ve never had such a good time. It really was perfect." ACI has been performed at Gilsland Farm Audubon Sanctuary, Falmouth, ME, commissioned by the Bates Dance Festival; Wave Hill, Bronx, NY, co-commissioned by Dancing in the Streets and Wave Hill; Dartmouth College, commissioned by the Hopkins Center, Hanover, NH; Connecticut College; and, most recently, Middlebury College.
Collaborations with composers have formed a vital part of Pearson and Widrig’s artistic vision and include music created by Obie and Bessie award winner Robert Een, James Nyoraku Schlefer, Pauchi Sasaki, David Schulman, Lauren Burke, Karinne Keithley, Andy Teirstein, Philip Hamilton, Carman Moore, and Hollywood composer Carter Burwell, who created "one of the finest scores for modern dance" [Back Stage] for The Return of Lot’s Wife.
With a deep sense of humanity at its core, their work remains at the cutting edge, making connections between seemingly disparate worlds and continually exploring the most central issues of art and life – those that divide us and those that, through a subtle shift in understanding, have the potential to unite us.
Pearson and Widrig have been full-time associate professors at the University of Maryland College Park’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies since 2009.
Pearson and Widrig are world renowned master teachers of sentient technique, inspired improvisation, and innovative choreography. As guest artists they have conducted numerous residencies including at New York University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Utah, Wesleyan University, UW Madison, Keene State, Oberlin and Antioch Colleges, the Bates Dance Festival, the Laban Centre in London, the Chang Mu Arts Center in Seoul, Korea, the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico, the New Zealand Schools of Dance in Auckland and Wellington, Beijing Normal University, and in India at the International Festival of Dance in New Delhi, among many others.