Ghost Variations


Robert Schumann (Ghost Variations, 1854, Theme, Variations II & V; Lierderkreis, Op., 39, No. 5 “Mondnacht”, 1840, arranged by Clara Schumann, 1872–1874) and Clara Schumann (Three Romances, Op. 11, 1839, I. Andante; Scherzo No. 2 in C minor, Op. 14, after 1840)


Jessica Lang

Creative Associate

Kanji Segawa

Costume Design

Jillian Lewis

Lighting Design

Reed Nakayama


appx 18 minutes


4 men, 4 women


November 12, 2020; Pacific Northwest Ballet (digital release)

The 2020 world premiere of Jessica Lang’s Ghost Variations is principally supported by Bob Benson and Deidra Wager, with additional support by H. David Kaplan.

Program Notes

Ghost Variations was composed by Robert Schumann in 1854, the last work he ever wrote, just prior to being committed to an asylum for insanity. Schumann believed he was being haunted by composers from the grave who were dictating the theme to him—forgetting he had already written it himself. The work was dedicated to his wife Clara, who guarded this final score and would not allow the theme and five variations to be published until finally they appeared in 1939.

This ballet to the same title weaves Robert Schumann’s “ghost” theme and two of the variations with Clara Schumann’s own piano compositions: her Andante movement from Three Romances and her Scherzo No. 2 in C Minor. The final movement of the ballet is a lieder entitled Mondnacht, written by Robert and arranged for solo piano by Clara, marking their indelible collaboration of life, love, and music.

Ghost Variations was created in August 2020 during the global pandemic. Keeping to the protocols of two pods of four dancers, donned in masks, physically distanced, and never touching (unless cohabitating), sometimes behind plexiglass, with covers on Zoom in other studios, this is a ballet created for the stage with costumes and theatrical lighting. It was my intention to create a ballet for the stage that was filmed and broadcast as opposed to making a “dance film.” Even though our only way to experience the world premiere was on a screen, now Ghost Variations seamlessly transfers to the stage for live performance as we finally gather in theaters again.

Program notes by Jessica Lang.

Artist Biographies

Kanji Segawa

Creative Associate

Kanji Segawa (Kanagawa, Japan) is currently a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He began his dance training with his mother Erika Akoh, studying ballet with Kan Horiuchi and Ju Horiuchi in Tokyo. In 1997 Mr. Segawa came to the U.S. under the Japanese Government Artist Fellowship to train at The Ailey School. He was a member of Ailey II from 2000-02 and Battleworks from 2002-10. Mr. Segawa worked extensively with Mark Morris from 2004-11, appearing with Mark Morris Dance Group and as a principal dancer in John Adams’ Nixon in China at The Metropolitan Opera. He is a master teacher and choreographs for companies and educational institutions. His work Future was premiered by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Since 1999, Mr. Segawa is Creative Associate for Jessica Lang assisting her creations for companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Washington Ballet and The National Ballet of Japan.

Clara & Robert Schumann


The Schumanns, Clara (nee Wieck, 1819-1896) and Robert (1810-1856), were partners in life and their artistic endeavors. As individuals, their contributions to 19th-century German music were remarkable. Clara, a child prodigy and frequent recitalist, was admired throughout Europe by many luminaries of the time, including Chopin and Liszt. Her influence on recital culture is felt today. Robert was a central figure of musical Romanticism, emphasizing self-expression and extra-musical associations, realized primarily through his piano and vocal works. Together, their influence was felt wide and large, as they championed and mentored composers and conductors, such as Brahms and Berlioz, and held musical salons in their homes in Leipzig, Dresden, and Düsseldorf. The Schumanns communicated to each other through their music and writings, including diaries and over 20,000 letters. The front pages of their first diary outlined their partnership: “This little book…shall be a diary about everything…our wishes, our hopes… also one of mediation and reconciliation…in short, it shall be our good, true friend, to whom we entrust everything, to whom we open our hearts.” They published one joint composition, a setting of poems by Friedrich Rückert titled Liebesfrühling (Love’s Springtime) (1840).

Jillian Lewis

Costume Designer

Jillian Lewis is a high-end fashion and costume designer based in New York City. Born and raised in New York, Jillian graduated from Parsons School of Design with a CFDA scholarship. She has been working in the fashion industry for almost two decades, most notably as Director of Design at Ralph Lauren, Senior Design Contributor at Anthropologie and Creative Director of her namesake line.

Jillian has a history of collaborations in the dance community. Her costumes dive into the story of the choreographer or director’s work to contribute to the visual story. She has costumed productions at Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The Guggenheim Museum, The Joyce Theater, The Baryshnikov Arts Center as well as Holland America Line. She has designed costumes for Jessica Lang, Stephen Petronio, Pam Tanawitz, Brian Reeder and Liz Gerring.