BASIL TWIST is a third generation puppeteer born on this date in San Francisco. He graduated from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. He is founder and director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at Here Arts Center in NYC, which supports and produces new puppet artists. He was a Fall 2015 MacArthur Fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Twist has significantly contributed to the art of puppetry since 1998. He creates puppet works focused on their integration with music. His “Symphonie Fantastique”, is performed to the symphony of the same name. Twist’s version of “Master Peter’s Puppet Show” was created with the Eos Orchestra and later performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Twist’s “Dogugaeshi” features original shamisen compositions created and performed live by master musician Yumiko Tanaka. He also directed and designed Humperdinck’s opera, Hansel and Gretel, for the Houston Grand Opera and the Atlanta Opera. In 2010, Twist created the puppetry for the Broadway productions of The Pee-wee Herman Show and The Addams Family. Twist is known for his original adult puppet mediums and use of abstraction in puppetry. “Symphonie Fantastique” takes place in a tank of water. In “Red Beads”, his collaboration with Lee Breuer and Mabou Mines, he created wind puppetry. In “Dogugaeshi” he uses the Japanese art form of sliding screens.
Other works include La Bella Dormente nel Bosco, Petrushka, Hansel and Gretel, Master Peter’s Puppet Show, the Araneidae Show, Behind the Lid, and Arias with a Twist, among others. He has collaborated with such artists as Joey Arias, Lee Breuer, Pilobolus, Paula Vogel and Joe Goode.
He is considered an important theater artist by critics of The New York Times, The New Yorker, et al. He has received national and regional recognition through numerous awards, including a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Romer, and Obie Award, a Creative Capital Award in the discipline of Performing Arts and a Guggenheim fellowship, and his work has been presented internationally.