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San Francisco Ballet Turns ‘Cinderella’ into a Puppet Show

Virtuoso puppeteer Basil Twist sends his fantastical creations onstage with the dancers.


Some of the real stars of San Francisco Ballet’s upcoming Cinderella (Apr. 28–May 7) aren’t the dancers. They aren’t even sentient. They’re elaborate, fever-dream puppet heads designed by virtuoso puppeteer Basil Twist. Among the most intricate of his designs for Cinderella is a giant magical tree, brought to life with light projections, from which several beautifully designed puppets—birds and sprites and such—emerge to dance and flitter across the stage.

Twist, who was born in San Francisco and lives in New York, is to puppeteering what Balanchine was to ballet. He’s produced the award-winning Araneidae Show and Broadway’s The Addams Family, received a MacArthur “Genius” grant, and lectured at Stanford, Brown, and NYU. Now his hometown audience will get to marvel at his amazing marionettes. 

Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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