“Titicut Follies: The Ballet” by James Sewell Ballet

About: Shot in a Massachusetts prison for the criminally insane, Fredrick Wiseman’s landmark documentary titled Titicut Follies (1967) provides a close and candid look at the lives of psychotic people, many of whom committed serious crimes. As with the film, James Sewell’s ballet is organized around an inmate and staff variety show called “Titicut Follies.” The ballet is not a literal presentation of scenes from the film but rather an expression of the ideas and feeling of the film, transformed into the language of ballet.


Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: Do you hope that after watching your ballet, audiences will have takeaways about institutionalization?

James Sewell, Founder of James Sewell Ballet: The piece is in reaction to the state of affairs in 1967 when the movie was made. In some ways, things have changed and in others, not as much as we would hope. The hope then is that people will ask these questions for themselves. The intent is to prompt questions rather than to provide answers or opinions.

Read the full interview on The Dance Enthusiast.

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