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Milwaukee Ballet's 'The Sixth Sin' Explores Body Image and Envy

Tom Davenport

The Milwaukee Ballet's latest show, Kaleidoscope Eyes, features the work of three choreographers. There’s Trey McIntyre’s A Day in The Life, which features music by the Beatles; a new work by Genesis 2015 winner Garret Smith called Addendum, and a world premiere called The Sixth Sin, by Timothy O’Donnell.

O'Donnell is the Milwaukee Ballet's choreographer-in-residence. His piece is an unapologetic look at cultural beauty standards, modern celebrity and the pervasiveness of social media curation and envy. O'Donnell wants The Six Sin to be accessible to audiences, and speak to them in a way that modern dance often fails to do. 

"One of the reasons we've sort of alienated people from modern dance is that they don't know what they should be thinking or feeling," he says. "I really want to tell a story, I want to portray an idea, and I want them to be able to connect to it so they can really think about it."

For O'Donnell's piece The Sixth Sin, that story is about body image and ultimately our personal envy. Like many of us, O'Donnell has struggled with body image issues, a problem that he believes stems from society's unattainable beauty standards.

"We're always talking about the one percent financially nowadays, but there's also that one percent physically who just happen to be a certain way. We can all get in fantastic shape but I promise you no matter how great a shape you get in you still won't have the specific body you want because we will always want things that are unobtainable," he says."What I really want people to take away from the piece is just to think about this in relation to themselves and just try to be a little happier and try to be a little more accepting of whatever they are."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.