Segerstrom Center for the Arts Announces North American Premiere of American Ballet Theatre Woolf Works

Choreographed by Wayne McGregor

Original Score by Max Richter

Live Performance with Pacific Symphony



The Guardian


Segerstrom Hall | 5 performances April 11-14

Tickets at



Costa Mesa, CA | Segerstrom Center for the Arts and American Ballet Theatre present the North American Premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. For the first time in America, five performances will run from April 11 to 14, 2024. The show, inspired by the writings of 20th-Century modernist author Virginia Woolf, Woolf Works sold-out crowds in London. This marks American Ballet Theatre’s first full-length production by McGregor, featuring a luminous original score by Max Richter, performed live by Pacific Symphony.


McGregor’s award-winning ballet triptych Woolf Works re-creates the emotions, themes, and fluid style of three of Virginia Woolf’s novels: Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and The Waves.  With inspiration also enmeshed with elements from her letters, essays, and diaries, Woolf Works expresses the heart of an artistic life driven to discover a freer, uniquely modern realism.


Considered one of the most important 20th-Century authors, Virginia Woolf in her writings searched for forms that defied the false order of traditional narrative conventions and enabled her to depict reality as she perceived it: heightened, startling and poignant.

Created for The Royal Ballet in 2015, Woolf Works recreates the synesthetic collision of form and substance at play in Woolf’s novels, while bringing to life Woolf’s world of “granite and rainbow” where human beings are at once both physical body and uncontained essence.


Renowned for his ground-breaking choreography and collaborations, McGregor mirrors Woolf’s modernist reduction of neatly ordered narrative, in favor of heightened startling perspectives.  He presents each of the three parts as distinct, multi-sensory collages – “I now, I then,” “Becomings,” and “Tuesday.” For the final act, “Tuesday,” Gillian Anderson recorded Virginia Woolf’s haunting suicide note.


The unconventional structure and collision of ideas in Woolf Works, in response to and reflective of Woolf’s approach to writing, was curated by a sterling artistic team, including McGregor’s long-time collaborators Lucy Carter (lighting), Moritz Junge (costumes) and Ravi Deepres (film designer). They are joined by architects Ciguë (“I now, I then”) and We Not I (“Becomings”), and make-up designer Kabuki.  At the start of the creation process, McGregor worked closely with dramaturg Uzma Hameed on analyzing and diving into Woolf’s writings, finding a richness in Woolf’s words and ideas that inspired the team to create the piece.   


Woolf Works is not a literal description of Woolf’s writing, says McGregor.  “It’s very lavish, with new visualization techniques and a collage structure; a full-on assault and collision of the senses.  The idea was to choregraph and design the piece in the spirit of Woolf’s writing, in an unfolding stream of consciousness, rather than as a literal translation of the novel’s narratives.”


McGregor learned that Woolf herself had taken a genuine interest in dance. From 1911 she had regularly attended Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, seeing the promise of “all kinds of fresh possibilities” in their exotic physicality.  Woolf drew direct inspiration from the most experimental of the Diaghilev repertory, especially Bronislava Nijinska’s fiercely constructivist ballet Les Noces.  McGregor says: “You can read in Woolf’s diary the effect that Les Noces had on the way she wrote, on the rhythm and organization of her material, on her ideas about kinetic momentum.”


Woolf Works is produced in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.  This production was first seen at the Royal Opera House, London on May 11, 2015.  At its premiere, Woolf Works was met with outstanding critical acclaim, going on to win McGregor the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.


The New York Times said on its 2015 premiere, “a compelling trilogy of works that together form a resonant, layered meditation on time and memory … McGregor has thought big, and he has created a work that is entertaining, absorbing, not always easy, and occasionally contentious. That’s the (Woolfian) spirit.” Eight years on, in 2023, The Guardian said, “Woolf Works is a beauty – a ballet of ravishing feeling and radical intellectual intent.”