Review of All Tharp
at Pacific Northwest Ballet
by Jennifer K, age 18
In the world of dance, Twyla Tharp is quite a legend. Her choreography has been making impressions for decades. Now, in our own Seattle, she has brought two brand new works to the stage. Pacific Northwest Ballet Company performs these in addition to another work by Twyla from the 1980s. Now, seeing a world premiere of choreography by someone like Twyla Tharp is an amazing opportunity in itself, even if the dancing seems way over your head. Granted, these days, going to “the ballet” can be somewhat intimidating. Choreographers are constantly searching for something new to show the audience, and often that comes across as confusing and strange. Tharp’s collection in this performance, however, gives an excellent opportunity for audience members to see unique choreography without feeling uncomfortable.
The performance consists of three works. Opus 111, the first piece, is the most balletic, but still not your typical ballet piece. The women do not dance on their toes or wear tutus. Rather, the costumes are unisex, and in much of the choreography the men and women perform the same steps. Ms. Tharp’s amazing gift with organizing movement is quite apparent in this piece. Multiple couples perform different combinations of intricate footwork and impressive lifts all around the stage, yet it never looks chaotic. The warm glow of the lighting and costumes makes this piece soothing to watch, with lilting choreography reminiscent of autumn leaves.
The second piece, Afternoon Ball, has none of the warmth of Opus 111. Instead, it takes place on a cold street, with three dancers mixing contemporary dance with ballet. The dancers are then joined by an elegant couple who waltzes among them. This is the most modern piece, and may seem a bit odd. However, the choreography is very impressive, which makes up for the slightly confusing story.
Nine Sinatra Songs is the final work in the performance. Set to the beautiful crooning of Frank Sinatra, several couples portray different types of romance through ballroom dancing and ballet. The elegant costumes and playful choreography make this work one that is sure to send you home happy. It had a timeless feel and definitely made you want to go out dancing.
Tharp’s choreography runs the gamut in this performance, from fall-festival ballet to hard, icy street dancing, to poised, graceful ballroom. The show gives a little bit of what everyone likes, impressive jumps and partnering, smooth music, and above all, superb dancing. Pacific Northwest Ballet Company certainly deserves applause for this show. It will make you want to come back for more.
All Tharp, by Pacific Northwest Ballet, plays September 25th through October 5
PNB’s Ticket Office: 206-441-2424
Ticket Office Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m. – show time, weekends 90 minutes before show time.
Pacific Northwest Ballet is located in McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, on the north edge of Seattle Center. It is served by buses 1,2,3,4,13,14,15,16,18,45,74 and 82. For bus schedules: tripplanner.metrokc.gov.
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