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MARGO SAPPINGTON is an internationally renowned choreographer and director, whose works are treasured for their vitality, inspiration, beauty, humor and passion. Born and trained in Baytown and Houston, Texas, she met Robert Joffrey at age 14 and at age 17 was invited by him to join the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. She created her first choreography on the show OH! CALCUTTA! at the age of 21 and has continued choreographing ever since for principal artists and dance companies worldwide.
Great works of art and literature have served as springboards for many of her imaginative and emotional creations. She began her ballets inspired by great artists with RODIN, MIS EN VIE, created for the Harkness Ballet in 1974 (also set on the Houston Ballet in 1987; the Ballet du Capitole, Toulouse, France in 1996 and June 2000, and both the Carolina Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet in June 2002).
In 1976, UNDER THE SUN for the Pennsylvania Ballet was based on the works of Alexander Calder, in celebration of his naming as bicentennial artist. VIRGIN FOREST, done in 1986 for the Milwaukee Ballet, is based on the life and jungle paintings of Douanier Rousseau, and also is the topic of an award winning PBS program. Her fourth ballet based on an artist is TOULOUSE LAUTREC, done in 2000 for the Ballet du Capitole in Toulouse, France, with the cooperation of the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi, France, Lautrec’s birthplace.
She was at the advent of bringing popular music to the ballet stage. Her ballets for the Joffrey Ballet include WEEWIS in 1971, and later, in 1993, SLIDE for the Joffrey’s full evening ballet, BILLBOARDS, with music by Prince, performed across the United States and broadcast on PBS television. She collaborated with the singing group Indigo Girls to create SHED YOUR SKIN for Atlanta Ballet, which had performances at the Fox Theater in 2001 and 2004, and a revival in fall 2009 with the addition of new songs. SHED YOUR SKIN also was performed in September 2006 by the State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara, California. The musical stylings of Mexican born arranger Esquivel inspired the creation of ZUZU LOUNGE for Kansas City Ballet, and was performed by them in 2002 and 2005. In April 2006, she contributed three dances to JAZZ MOVES for Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio, with the Jazz Orchestra of Columbus. The work was revived by them in February 2009. She created a new work, COMMON PEOPLE, for Milwaukee Ballet, to selections from William Shatner’s CD, Has Been. This work was premiered by Milwaukee Ballet on February 15, 2007, and again performed by them in May 2009. Mr. Shatner produced a documentary film of the collaboration which premiered at the Nashville Film Festival on April 17th, 2009 under the title WILLIAM SHATNER’S GONZO BALLET.
Internationally, she was the first American choreographer to create an original work, HELIOTROPE, on the Central Ballet of China in Beijing, in 1988, and created SFERE DI MERCURIO, for ATERballetto during their premiere season in 1980. She has also worked with Netherlands Dans Theater and choreographed JUICE there in 1976. Her dance drama, JULIANA, was created for and danced by both Rajatabla Danza and Ballet Nuevo Mundo in Caracas, Venezuela. On January 23, 2009 her new full-length ballet, TLEP & SARYKYZ premiered in Almaty Kazakhstan at Abai Theater of Opera and Ballet. The original commissioned score was composed by Almas Serkebayev, a native Kazakh now residing in Boston.
Not limited to the concert stage, her assignments have included the Broadway revivals PAL JOEY and WHERE’S CHARLEY? (for which she received both a Drama Desk Nomination and a Tony Award Nomination), numerous advertisements and music videos, most notably with Germaine Jackson, and three international simulcasts from the San Francisco Opera, LA GIOCONDA (with Renata Scotto and Luciano Pavarotti, and principal dancers Martine Van Hamel, Christian Holder and Gary Chryst), SAMSON ET DAHLILA (with Shirley Verret and Placido Domingo, and principal dancer Christian Holder), and AIDA (with Leontyne Price and Luciano Pavarotti. and principal dancer Christian Holder). At the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Miami, Florida, she choreographed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s SONG AND DANCE with new Latin influenced dance arrangements.
She has enjoyed a long relationship with many dance companies and dance professionals. She co-directed Ballet: The Daring Project with ballerina Valentina Kozlova from 1995-99, and choreographed more than a dozen works tailored for Ms. Kozlova and the company of ten dancers. They performed throughout the United States and in Italy, including three seasons at the Joyce Theater in New York City. For the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, she has choreographed five works: COBRAS IN THE MOONLIGHT (also danced by the Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France, Ballet Florida and Kansas City Ballet), AND NOW THIS, STEP OUT OF LOVE, MIRAGE and FORGING GROUND. In 2006, she contributed choreography to the first season of Ballet Adriatico in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, a ballet intensive directed by Anna-Marie Holmes. She has set her works at Point Park Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has adjudicated all five regions of Regional Dance America