Leading Washington Artists Reach Across Disciplines for World Premiere Dance-Theatre Collaboration

Washington, D.C. – Innovative performing arts company Word Dance Theater joins forces with Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center and award-winning stage director Derek Goldman (Our Class) to produce the multi-disciplinary theatrical collaboration Once Wild: Isadora in Russia. Written by Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright Norman Allen (Nijinksy’s Last Dance), with original music by renowned composer Dominik Maican, and choreography by Cynthia Word (Preludes: Duncan, Sand and Chopin), Once Wild steps across creative boundaries to offer a bold, new vision of seminal artist Isadora Duncan, her work, and her years in Bolshevik Russia.

In keeping with the company’s cross-disciplinary spirit, the central role of Irma Duncan, Isadora’s adopted daughter, will be shared by actress Kimberly Schraf and dancer Ingrid Zimmer. Philip Fletcher, known for his work with Synetic Theater, portrays volatile Russian poet Sergei Esenin, and Cynthia Word dances the lead role of Isadora.

Playwright Allen explained, “Isadora Duncan changed forever the way we think about dance, and thus the way we think about theatre. She broke the rules. It’s exciting to be immersed in a creative process that attempts to do the same. Pairing an actress of Kim Schraf’s caliber with a dancer like Ingrid Zimmer to create a single, complex character provides new opportunities, and distinct new challenges. To layer text, however sparse, onto a classic work of Duncan’s own creation requires a bit of chutzpah, but the result will give audiences an entirely new perspective on her choreography, and the revolution that she caused.”

For the past decade, Cynthia Word, Artistic Director of Word Dance Theater, has proven the artistic power of cross-discipline work through a series of innovative performances created by teams of artists working in different genres. According to Word, “Cross-discipline work breaks through the isolation of individual art-forms. It challenges even the most collaborative of artists to work with unfamiliar tools, and to communicate with new artistic vocabularies. Because of the challenges inherent in the process, cross-discipline work is also extraordinarily rich in possibility. It reflects a broader shift of consciousness toward global thinking, conflict resolution, and problem solving that we feel throughout the culture. Perhaps most important, the work models our own belief in the capacity of the human spirit to be continuously reborn through acts of creation.”

Director Goldman says of the project, “It’s an honor and a remarkable opportunity to come together with leading artists from a range of disciplines (leading choreographers, dancers, multimedia designers, composer/musicians, and actors, along with an extraordinary playwright), to examine the legacy of one of the 20th century’s most complex artistic figures. The piece we are creating speaks to the connection between individual artistic vision and global politics. By introducing us to Irma Duncan, one of Isadora’s disciples and adopted daughters, the piece engages questions about teaching, memory, and revolution, about how personal and artistic legacies are passed on from generation to generation, particularly in the ephemeral art form of
performance. All of us working on this unique cross-disciplinary collaboration are energized to be using different artistic muscles, pursuing new ways of working, and combining expressive forms in surprising new ways.”

Joining the eclectic creative team are projection artist Jared Mezzocchi (Trip to the Moon), lighting designer Robbie Hayes (Rorschach Theatre), award winning costume designer Judy Hansen, and sound designer Jimmy Garver (Our Class). Carlos Cesar Rodriguez (El Amor Brujo) serves as both music director and pianist.

Once Wild: Isadora in Russia
Co-Produced by Word Dance Theater and Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center

Performance Times:
Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, 2013 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2 p.m.

37th & O Streets NW Washington DC 20057

$25 General/$18 Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Senior/$10 Student
For tickets, go to or call (202) 687-ARTS (2787)

*Post-performance reception on May 3 and discussion with artists on May 4

At the invitation of the Bolshevik government, Isadora Duncan and her adopted daughter Irma arrive in Russia determined to ignite its children’s minds and bodies through a new school of dance. Immersed in the revolutionary spirit, Duncan created some of her most groundbreaking work, and faced some of her greatest personal challenges. Seen through Irma’s eyes, Once Wild explores Isadora’s Russian years, her romance with poet Sergei Esenin, and her lasting legacy.

Directed by Derek Goldman. Written by Norman Allen.
Original music by Dominik Maican. Original choreography by Cynthia Word.

For more information about Once Wild: Isadora in Russia, go to

About Word Dance Theater:
Word Dance Theater is a 501(c)3 performing arts company dedicated to advancing the performing arts through the creation of innovative, multi-disciplinary theater productions. Originating from the world of modern dance, Word Dance Theater integrates the holistic philosophy of Isadora Duncan, founder of modern dance, to pioneer the equal blending of theater, music, and dance and to create a rich foundation from which new theater experiences can emerge. Please visit us at

About the Davis Performing Arts Center:
Opened in November 2005 in the center of Georgetown University’s campus as the only building in Georgetown history designed specifically for arts education, the Davis Performing Arts Center is the academic home to the Department of Performing Arts and features two theatre spaces: the proscenium Gonda Theatre and the black box Devine Studio Theatre. The Davis Performing Arts Center season unfolds in intimate dialogue with the Department’s curricular offerings. In addition to mainstage theater productions, the Department sponsors numerous music and dance performances, workshops, readings, master classes, symposia, and guest lectures, placing students from the entire Georgetown community in regular contact with leading professionals from the US and beyond.


Media contacts:

Word Dance Theater:
Stacy Yu
Tel: 301.461.6770

Georgetown University Department of Performing Arts:
Laura Mertens
Tel: 202-687-6933