The Road to Sensorium


I’m James Buckhouse, artist/impresario and your host for Sensorium. My dream is simple: to combine the visual and performing arts to create a total art. (Psssst—get your tickets here now).  

This has been a big week. We finally figured out a way to get the large video sculpture built for the lobby. Wait until you see the two 30-foot-long video curtains of crashing waves that people will pass through on their way into the theater. They are made of “theatrical string” and work kind of like a beaded curtain from the ‛70s—so you can walk through them—but they are also a projection surface. You become a part of the art as you walk through the waves. The trickiest bit was figuring out how to engineer the tension wire to hold the whole thing up. Check out this mock-up for the vibe. I can’t wait to see 3,000 people part the waves to experience Sensorium’s ballets.


Bed Sheet Couture
Adding fashion to the mix of art, music, and dance, this year we’re bringing you a new experience called Bed Sheet Couture. I called up my favorite fashion designer, Lan Jaenicke, who will bring her team to the War Memorial Opera House to create a mini-atelier in the lobby. Here’s a quick watercolor of her laughing as she takes the call with me. “You want me to do what?” “How many gowns in an hour?” 

Lan will create instant couture gowns for six lucky members of our audience. Why just check your coat? Instead, check your whole outfit and Lan and her team will sew a made-to-measure, couture piece right on your body out of a bed sheet—while you wait. 

The whole thing is inspired by her fall collection, specifically her piece called PONCHO which is a deceptively simple garment that can be worn in an infinite number of ways. Here’s an animated sketch I did of the original PONCHO so you can see it in action, transforming as it’s worn different ways on the body. 


We stopped off at Jessie Black, a Pacific Heights boutique, to pick up some designer sheets for raw material. Here’s another sketch of Lan in action as she rises to the challenge to create instant evening gowns out of sheets, a little ribbon, and her wits. 


Lan’s emphasis is on drape — creating that interstitial space between the body and the garment. I’m particularly excited to have her as a part of Sensorium because her concept of drape perfectly complements how Choreographer William Forsythe constructs space with his dancers . He’s never just creating a line; he’s challenging the dancers to conceive of the space that surrounds their bodies as a volume, and then works with them to manipulate, translate, and investigate that space to reveal both an emotional truth and to extend the vocabulary of dance. 

Look for more updates in the coming days. My next post will be all about virtual reality, helicopters (!!), and riding on the crest of the wave.

That’s all for now, 

James Buckhouse

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