Thursday, September 24, 2015

Twyla Tharp 50th Anniversary Tour: Dallas

I didn't get to see the Rolling Stones play this year, and I'm geographically too far away from seeing Pope Francis in person on his visit, but I did do something a bit different. Twyla Tharp's 50th Anniversary Tour began in Dallas at the Winspear Opera House (AT&T Performing Arts Center) on September 18 and 19, 2015. I attended on the second night and was thrilled to see it.

I do not know much about the technical aspects of dance and its choreography, but I do know when I like something, and I found this event mesmerizing and great fun: spectacle, music and dance choreographed with both respect and a sense of humor.  
Twyla Tharp is quoted in the program with regards to her organizing principle: "Simply put, PRELUDES AND FUGUES is the world as it ought to be. YOWZIE as it is. The FANFARES celebrate both."

The night proceeded in this order:

[- FINIS -]

"Preludes and Fugues" revolved around piano music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. "Yowzie" was constructed around early blues/jazz songs by Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and others. The whole second part of the night was wilder and more energetic than the first -- which was perfect, not least because audience members could bring "spirits" netted during the intermission to their seats, so long as they had lids on them. 

It was astonishingly pleasing to hear the pounding and thumping of bare feet on the stage, to see it all in person -- a much more exciting experience than seeing such things on a small glass screen.

The dress of the dancers contrasted between halves. For the Bach piano vibe, the men wore what looked to me like simple outfits from the time of the French Revolution or Napoleonic era. The women wore shorter outfits, more like flappers from the 1920s or pre-flappers from ancient times with colorful fabrics. The differences between the attire of the men and women was both anachronistic and cool. Much stranger were the outfits worn by both women and men after the intermission. Think bright, colorful ragtag clothes with the vibe of Billy Idol in "Dancing with Myself" -- sort of 70s punk meets 80s garish tones mixed within a hallucinated dreamscape. In other words: bizarre. Especially because the dancers moved around the stage to musical classics of the first half of the 20th century. Again, both anachronistic and cool.

Which all reminds me: it's good to stretch, get out of the same old, same old routines. My little synapses were firing away, taking it all in. A dash of pinot noir aided me.

Twyla Tharp is astonishing. She came out afterwards and spoke to a sizable subset of the overall audience, that portion which remained after the main performance. She fielded questions. Until this point, the only languages I'd heard around me (when seated elsewhere) were Portuguese, Russian, Italian and Queen's English. In the Q & A, American English was spoken.  

I've already written some about her earlier work with David Byrne on The Catherine Wheel project.  Let me add that Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (with Mark Reiter, 2006) is a useful and entertaining book, especially for the creatively inclined. For her 50th anniversary tour, you can access Twyla Tharp's NY Times blog here

This North American tour (or part thereof) proceeds next to the mountain states, the West Coast, Austin, New Orleans, Bloomington, Toronto, East Lansing, Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City. Can you dig? I'd see it again if I could. 

Today's Rune: Initiation. 


Charles Gramlich said...

So many fascinating areas of human endevour that I've pretty much skipped over. Dance is one of those, although I certainly appreciate fine artistry

jodi said...

Erik-I would have loved this! I love dance. Hopefully they would have served Pinot Grigio!