Life Keeps D.C. Ballet Master On His Toes

One thing Septime Webre credits for his sizable success: his sizable family.

One thing Septime Webre credits for his sizable success: his sizable family.

By Kayla Franson

Photo by Mollie Tobias

He boasts an extensive taxidermy collection, calls the Bahamas home and had almost decided on law school when he moved to New York to pursue a dancing career. These days, Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, divides his time among choreographing, mentoring and teaching.

Such leadership requires discipline and endurance, and Webre believes his childhood was a good warm-up. Aside from his early flair for show business—becoming a playwright at age 10—Webre is on the tail end of nine children.

“There’s a certain amount of genial chaos that exists in the creation of new work. And that’s familiar in my wonderful, but chaotic, family,” he says. “A lot of different personalities that are distinct, but work as a unit in a way that’s logical together.”

The ballet is currently rehearsing for Hemingway’s, “The Sun Also Rises.” Webre read the book a few times before beginning the choreography process, which includes hours at the dinner table with a boom box, composition book and cold Mexican beer. In the end though, it’s a collaboration.

“I prepare ideas, but then I walk into the studio, and those kind of go out the window,” he says. “It’s just a framework, and we invent together.”

The humble entertainer and teacher has inspired thousands, and a lot more magic is still to come.

 Click to enlarge photo

Photo by Mollie Tobias. (Click to enlarge)

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(December 2012)