Sixteen years ago, Wolf Trap conceived a project to celebrate its identity as the only national park dedicated to performing arts as well as the natural environments represented by the parks. The Face of America had its first performance in 2000 and has since highlighted six regions, from southern Florida to Yosemite to Hawaii. On August 27, it spotlights the Pacific Northwest with an event featuring Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Seattle indie rockers Band of Horses.
“At root, it’s about the amazing dance and music that come out of a gorgeous area,” says Wolf Trap’s Barbara Parker. “National parks were set aside to preserve cultural and geographical treasures unique to our country, and we want to celebrate them through our language, the performing arts.”
The evening consists of an Oregon Ballet Theatre performance choreographed by Trey McIntyre to music by the band Fleet Foxes (also from Seattle) and a world premiere from Pacific Northwest Ballet set to songs by the electronic outfit Chromatics. In the background and between performances are filmed segments featuring dancers shot on location in that part of the country.
“One day we had them in two feet of snow, then a rainforest, then a pebble beach the next day,” Parker says. “There’s so much connection between art and nature, and this gave the dancers a chance to get to the heart of that.” Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Andrew Bartee choreographed the films. Between performances, Band of Horses plays an acoustic set.
“If you don’t love dance, you can sit and listen to amazing music,” says Parker. “If you don’t love the music, you can see amazing dance. If you don’t like either, you can see this spectacular film that won’t appear anywhere else. There are so many elements that until you’re sitting in the seat, the full impact isn’t going to hit you—but when it does, it’s going to blow you away.”
Purchase tickets ($10 to $44) at wolftrap.org.
Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.