Ep 07. Saint Never Comes Day

Mar 21, 2017

Paul & Annie-B


Paul and Annie-B are the directors of the experimental dance and performance group Big Dance Theater. They have performed worldwide. On top of founding an internationally recognized theater company, Annie-B is well known for her choreographic collaborations with Nico Muhly, St. Vincent, and David Byrne, and Paul is known for his acting roles in Silence of The Lambs, Married To The Mob & many other films and TV shows.


“I was working as an actor in a pretty tiny little theater company in New York City and Annie was brought in initially to that company by the director to choreograph.”


Annie B

“I had never worked in theater at all, in fact I didn’t know theater had directors …really!

Dance by Letter is a dance book by Annie -B and is available from 53rd State Press. 

You can find out more about Big Dance Theater at their website and in this handy video.


17c is the newest Big Dance Theater ensemble work, built around the problematic 17th century diaries of Samuel Pepys. It Premiers in the Fall of 2017

17c Trailer – premiering fall 2017 from Big Dance Theater on Vimeo.



Episode 7 was produced by Bart Warshaw

The Kismet team are Danny Lewis, Zoe Saunders & Ryan Sweikert


You know, it’s so, it’s funny, this question. Because you’re kind of teasing out what actually happened to the story of what happened. The story is…

I was in graduate school. And somebody asked me if I would choreograph a dance.

I was working as an actor in a pretty tiny…

for a

theater company 

in New York City, and Annie was brought initially to that company by the director to choreograph.

I had never worked in theater at all. In fact, I didn’t even know theater had directors, really. And so I of course said yes, and I guess I went to a rehearsal.

You know I have a picture of a very funky theater, man.

Uh, little place, I don’t know where it was, but it was definitely downtown somewhere, I think on the Lower East Side.

Way west in the teens in Manhattan.

And a very, very little space

I don’t know Manhattan has that kind of space anywhere anymore, but it did at the time. 

I was specifically doing this song that needed a dance with the song.

And he was playing the flyer for…

from a Brecht play called…

The Good Woman of Setzuan

Which is a Brecht play.

And it’s quite a number. It’s a ballsy kind of song.

I do remember very clearly seeing Paul on stage for the first time in the rehearsal.

This is probably imaginary but it’s maybe a white shirt.

He was wearing a shirt that, uh…

short-sleeved white shirt

like a pale green shirt that I thought was ironed. And I remember thinking: “He has an ironed shirt for rehearsal?”

It was a great look. I mean, you know, when you’re young and beautiful, just simple clothing is usually great.

It was like somebody would wear it at a gas station. And I think it said Paul on it maybe. And green woolen pants, like an army pants. And work boots.

Ooh, she had these very cool, really great sunglasses that had like, leather around the sides.

I remember the boots really clearly because he was dancing so gracefully. Somehow that like stuck in my mind, that he had work boots and he was dancing really gracefully like my ballet teacher.

I don’t know how to describe it, she looked great.

So Annie, so she was brought in and…

I thought he was fantastic, and so talented, and he was moving so well. And the director said “okay, so, you can make some movement material for him”. And I said…

The response was…

It’s totally unnecessary

You know I don’t think

He moves so well I don’t think

he should

be choreographed.

It just looks very embodied. And very natural, and I think that’s better for this song than if I make up a bunch of stuff and teach it to him.

That just what he’s doing is great.

If, you know, talent is sexy in a sense, I was just absolutely stricken with how amazing he seemed.

You know, hah! So that was a good start.

Um, so I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight.

I don’t mean to be unromantic but you know, it kinda takes a while or took a while to really see each other.

At some point, I passed him a note and was like: “Do you wanna go on a date?” or something. Because he was always, he was always very, very serious and very disciplined. He passed the note back and he said: “After we open the play.” It made sense, I was kind of bugged that he would like want to wait for, like the play didn’t open for a couple weeks.

So at some point we needed to just have a name I guess. Cuz we had some, I mean late night gigs.

You know we were, we were not the center of the New York theater scene. Some people came, you know, and… It was great to perform that part and to live inside of the Brechtian mind.

I don’t want to ever do Brecht again, because I don’t think I need to because I’ve done so many Brecht plays. But yes, we were definitely, our relationship was shaped by Bertolt Brecht, for better or worse.

We got so used to working together, me as choreographer, him as a performer.

I was actor, never did any directing or really thought about it.

And then

When we started our company, I was the director, she was the choreographer.

So we have always made work together. I think we started working together then, we were in our… maybe I was 25?

She has that directorial talents that have only flourished since.

In a very rough but not insignificant way, we’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for the whole time we’ve known each other.

To me after that, it was like we were just destined to be together.

Which is making theater.