Victoria and I had two opportunities to see Twyla Tharp pieces at Pacific Northwest Ballet this fall. Earlier this year (or was it last year?) we saw “In The Upper Room” which was just excellent - I actually was inspired to create a needlepoint design based on that piece (no, you can’t see it, it is being used in the MTP) The dancing and the building of the plot and tension… so wonderful. A bit after that we looked up Twyla on google and watched some videos, etc. Victoria does still remember that piece.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Twyla has been in Seattle for the last couple of months working on two new pieces for the PNB rep. She gave a lecture and demonstration and they were very interesting. The lighting was full on and there were no custumes (although with he-who-shall-not-be-outed’s pink hot pants it could have been a costume) but the dancers were light on their feet and the lecture was informational. She had a few slides to show how the dancing on the stage is layered out, another with the music score marked to show who should get the hell to their place now. What I found most informative is that she uses video recordings of her “units” which she can then pull from when she creates a new piece. Of course, there is always improvisation with her, she reminds the audience. The two pieces were then performed in their entirety, Opus 111 and Afternoon Ball. After a few closing notes the question and answers were brief and that was the evening. Someone did ask her if she draws inspiration from other choreographers… she monologued into her daily schedule of early rising, exercise, barre, work with dancers (getting brought lunch), then a strict regiment of reading classical books until an early turn in. It was very inspiring. To ignore all that doesn’t matter and only doing what you love and need to do. That’s it, I’m done vacuuming.
Yesterday we went to the actual showing of “All Tharp”. Opus 111 (Music: Johannes Brahms) was similar - I did notice the changes in lighting and when it became softer and warmer. The costumes were beautiful and floaty and shades of purple, brown, and orange.
Afternoon Ball (Music: Vladimir Martynov), however, WOW, what a difference. Now, I LOVED the piece before, mainly because I loved the music. The incredible charismaticism of the music as it slows and then speeds and then builds and then STOPS. It was truly amazing. Add in the costumes and the lighting and it was brilliant. Very gritty and beautiful blend of costuming. When lady death comes in the lighting is so focused that she truly appears to become a star. Just wonderful.
Lastly in All Tharp was Nine Sinatra Songs. I’m a fan of Frank Sinatra in that I hear him in movies and television shows and I wouldn’t turn the channel if he came on the radio. Goodness, I could even sing along in my head if needs be. But I will say that the first three pieces of this composition just weren’t that great. Dare I say sloppy? I’m also a big fan of “So You Think You Can Dance” and I saw better ballroom on their then yesterday. Yes, I know they weren’t doing ballroom, they were doing ballet, but ya know, it looked like they were trying to do ballroom. The fourth number (Something Stupid) introduced some levity and then it got better from there. The last number was pretty good. Of course, Victoria was just thrilled about the dresses and the colors. That was her favorite thing about “Take 5″ earlier this year, too.
A last note. yesterday I used my once-a-year free pass to “upgrade” our seats. We were able to get dress circle preferred, which usually sell for at least $160 a seat. I didn’t like them as much! We’d sat there before (a few years ago when we saw “Nutcracker”) and I noticed then you couldn’t see as much detail. Worst of all was the disco ball during the Sinatra songs - the glare was right above us and at eye level. It wasn’t just me that noticed, the senior ladies behind me couldn’t keep quiet about it. So I’ll be happy that those aren’t our subscriber seats. :)
All in all a lovely afternoon. (Food was great, too.) I’m looking forward to this year at PNB.