Was It a Dream I Loved

Was it a Dream I Loved is an evening length performance piece directed by Sonsherée Giles in collaboration with composer Caroline Penwarden and visual artist Heike Liss. It premiered February 10-12, 2012 in the "black box" at the Fox Theatre in downtown Oakland.

Synthesizing art history and the quotidian, they use original choreography, musical compositions, video enhanced environments and sculptural installations to weave together a unique and magical landscape. Informed by the seminal ballet Afternoon of a Faun originally choreographed by Nijinsky.

Giles, Penwarden and Liss investigate the decadence and eroticism of the original ballet, shifting focus by blurring genders, anthropomorphizing, and diffusing self-identities, imagining a landscape that begets the question: where is the line between fantasy and truth?

Since its controversial premiere by Les Ballets Russes in Paris in 1912—during which outraged patrons caused a near riot—artists ranging from Jerome Robbins and Mikhail Baryshnikov to Freddie Mercury and Queen have revisited the work because of its inherent pull and mystery. For this re-imagined fantasy, Giles, Penwarden and Liss created an erotic and teasing dreamscape, charged with sexual ambiguity all in order to undermine our sense of what is “real."

This project was generously supported by CA$H, a grants program of Theatre Bay Area, in partnership with Dancers' Group, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Clorox Company Foundation, the East Bay Fund for Artists, AXIS Dance Company, and Oakland School of the Arts.


Sonshereé Giles
Caroline Penwarden
Visual Artist:
Heike Liss
Kevin Atkinson
Lisa Bufano
John Carnahan
Janet Das
Rebecca Gilbert
Sonsherée Giles
Sebastian Grubb
Amy Lewis
Juliana Monin
Alicia Ruth
Rodney Bell
Jason Hoopes
Caroline Penwarden
Noah Phillips
Aram Shelton
Damon Waitkus
Costume designer:
Sonsherée Giles
Video Software Designer:
Les Stuck
Sound Engineer:
Patrice Scanlon