Some Screwball Surrealism for Halloween

Child flying

“I’m a comedienne in the beginning,” said Ms. Eda, who added that people usually see her “as a very serious girl.”

“So I’m happy to do this,” she said. “I like to be stupid onstage a little bit.”

In Disney’s “The Skeleton Dance,” four skeletons — alongside cats, bats and an owl — frolic in a spooky graveyard until sunrise drives them back underground. The idea came from the Disney composer Carl Stalling, who was a favorite of Igor Stravinsky; the plot came from a poem by Henri Cazalis, which also inspired Camille Saint-Saëns for “Danse Macabre.”

Ms. Armitage wanted something that reached beyond Disney or Saint-Saëns: “I wanted to make it gritty and street,” she said.

Haitian culture, which has long fascinated her, became an integral part of the piece. “It’s tough,” she said of the street theater there. “The imagination is just fantastic, because that’s what they’ve got. These devil characters come up to you during the carnival, and they whack you! It’s like the real thing. So I wanted to bring some of that brutal fierceness in.” She laughed. “We’re not actually hitting people with things.”

But — taking inspiration from carnival — the dancers, at times, wear masks. “It’s about multiple identities,” Ms. Armitage said. “It’s not just daylight identities or straightforward identities.”

The notion of becoming another person, she said, “is very much a part of Halloween.” And she sees similarities between the holiday and carnival: “It’s liberating. It’s reversing power and letting your id out.”

Ms. Armitage also regards “Halloween Unleashed,” entertaining as it is, as a political work, born out of the realization that we are living in stressful political times. “I wanted it to be menacing and thuggish in a way,” she said. “I didn’t want this to be polite and predigested.”

As for the no-wave influence? That partly has to do with attitude: Taking the downtown New York world that she experienced in the 1970s and ’80s and its rebellion against, what she called, “the puritanical starkness of minimalism.”

The artists in her circle were more intent on bringing emotion and virtuosity back to the audience experience. That no-wave period “was so liberating and creative,” she said. “I just wanted to bring back a sense of liberation and the idea of just do what you want and believe in yourself.” She laughed again. “This is all of those things.”

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