LILLIAN STILLWELL has choreographed throughout Europe and in the USA since 2009. She will begin her tenure as Dance Director and Chief Choreographer at Theater Münster, Germany in Season 2022/23.
Her work includes dance evenings, interdisciplinary and immersive productions and operas in a signature choreographic language which combines virtuosic physicality with emotional vulnerability and precise musicality.
Lillian’s choreography has been seen at theaters and opera houses including Theater Basel, Oper Graz, the Royal Danish Opera, Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Norwegian National Opera, Oper Zürich, as well as at city, state and national theaters throughout Germany. She also creates work with her Basel-based company SNOW productions.
Lillian grew up in Minneapolis, MN, received her classical training at Ballet Arts Minnesota and the Milwaukee Ballet, and completed a BA in Dance at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She danced and toured with numerous choreographers in the USA and Europe, lastly from 2005 – 2012 with Johannes Wieland in New York City and at Staatstheater Kassel, Germany.
After choreographing many large-scale productions throughout Europe from 2013 – 2019, she co-founded SNOW productions in Basel with Tom Ryser. This all-local dance research and production laboratory allows for intimate collaboration, agile production cycles and experimentation. SNOW productions has been Artist-in-Residence at Dampfzentrale Bern and Braswell Art Center, created 100% Basel Pop-Up Events and received generous support by SwissLos Fonds Basel-Stadt and numerous foundations for the immersive dance evening with live DJs AFTERLIFE.
Lillian has taught dance and choreography at the University of Minnesota Dance Program, St. Olaf College and TU Dance Company and School (USA) as well as at Choreolab Europe and Profitraining Basel (Switzerland).
In 2022 Lillian will choreograph two dance evenings for Tanz Münster: FURIEN (Premiere 17. September 2022) and THE FOUR SEASONS (Premiere 11. March 2023). Her choreography in the Donizetti Trilogy at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet will be seen in Amsterdam, Valencia and Naples. Her widely praised choreography in Monteverdi’s L’ORFEO will be seen in a revival of the production at the Royal Danish Opera.
Lillian understands dance as connection.
She is actively engaged in opening and demystifying dance practice, developing sustainable working, production and performance methods and investigating new forms of dance leadership. She is currently completing her Executive Masters in Arts Administration at the University of Zürich.
TanzKongress 2022 in Mainz invited her to speak alongside other Dance Directors in a panel on innovation and accessibility in institutional dance companies. She is a Mentor in the German Cultural Department’s Initiative to increase the representation of women in cultural leadership. The winning design of the “Sustainable Dance Set-Design Competition” she launched at Theater Münster in 2021 will be seen throughout Tanz Münster’s first two seasons.
Beginning in Season 2022/23, together with her team, the company of twelve dancers and numerous artistic guests, Lillian aims to build on Münster’s rich dance tradition of artistic excellence to establish Tanz Münster as a place for innovation and sustainability in dance.
— a completely new music theater experience has been created by Jochen Biganzoli, Milo Pablo Momm, Tom Ryser and Lillian Stillwell, each of them an alpha director. The differences between the individual signatures harmonize wonderfully. shz, ALIVE! SAISONSCHLUSS_20 / Theater Luubeck (2020)
Of European ranking…here in Copenhagen they sing with tendness and grace, effortlessly choreographed by Lillian Stillwell to fit the singers like a glove.
Opernwelt, L’ORFEO / Royal Danish Opera (2020)
Effervescent, at times ecstatic, and delicately sensitive, Lillian Stillwell has found a movement language in which nothing seems extraneous. Everything happens naturally, unfolding out of the context of the story.
Musicalzentrale, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR / Theater Basel (2016)
This is no run-of-the-mill musical choreography but true dance theater. Lillian Stillwell choreographs with a ferocious appetite for various movement styles. The opening song after the intermission “Too Darned Hot” flies into a frenzy and builds to the scorching high point….Wunderbar!
Musicals Magazine, KISS ME KATE / Staatstheater Kassel (2015)
Kinky choreography by Lillian Stillwell.
Weser-Kurier, LAZARUS / Theater Bremen (2018)
Choreographer Lillian Stillwell and director Tom Ryser integrate opera and dance astoundingly. The four dancers on pointe create a second dimension through their otherworldly gestures, which makes the spiritual aspects of the ritual visible. On the other end of the spectrum, the Street-Chorus lets loose with breakdance.
neuemusikzeitung, MASS / Theater Lübeck (2017)
The connecting element of the entire artistically well-crafted and buoyant result is Lillian Stillwell’s modern choreography.
Kieler Nachrichten, THE FAIRY QUEEN / Theater Lübeck (2015)
Nominierung: Choreographin des Jahres
Musicals Magazin, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR / Thetaer Basel (2016)
The choreography by Lillian Stillwell is a highlight of the production. The dance ensemble is brilliantly erotic and acrobatic. Fred’s dresser Pat throws down a wicked solo and the strong Opera Chorus also swings along strongly.
HNA, KISS ME KATE / Staatstheater Kassel (2015)
Their choreography, created by Lillian Stillwell, incorporates martial arts and other elements in the most elegant way. The disciplines are brought together astoundingly naturally.
Hamburger Feuilleton, THE FAIRY QUEEN / Theater Lübeck (2015)
Lillian Stillwell has developed choreography that could be described as classical ballet with modern elements, to wonderful effect. The four dancers could be described most accurately as God’s Ideas.
Ihr Opernfreund, MASS / Theater Lübeck (2017)
The fantastic choreography by Lillian Stillwell transforms the groove of the music into movement: she lets the Theater Basel chorus and Münster Gospelchoir loose as a pulsing mass, uses a couple of them as arm-waving Backup-Girls, engages acrobatic dancers and choreographs a wonderful tap-dance number for King Herod.
Tageswoche Basel, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR / Theater Basel (2016)
The program quotes Wsewolod Meyerhold: The actor in a musical drama must recognize the essence of the score and translate all of its subtleties into his movement language. That succeeds outstandingly under the Movement Direction by Lillian Stillwell.
Göttinger Tageblatt, THE LOVE OF THREE ORANGES / Staatstheater Kassel (2016)
One just can’t get enough of the exhilarating chorus scenes choreographed by Lillian Stillwell.
NDR, SUNSET BOULEVARD / Theater Lübeck (2016)
The choreography by Lillian Stillwell deserves special praise. Her expressive dance images contribute significantly to the overall totally convincing and coherent interpretation. In this production, the successful musical is not just reproduced, it is taken seriously.
Musicals Magazine, EVITA / Staatstheater Kassel (2013)