“I feel it’s the most ironic thing I could do right now: the wanted woman,” Ms. Farmer said after a rehearsal, laughing.
With her long legs and spiky red hair, Ms. Farmer has always been a striking dancer, but in rehearsals for Ms. Tharp’s show she has transformed herself into a 21st-century Ann-Margret. “I’m looking down at my feet, and my Merce calluses are going,” she said. “I don’t need them anymore, and I have these new shoes. And Merce would love that. I am changing. He always said, ‘If you usually step off the curb with your right foot, use your left foot.’ I’m using my left foot.”
Still, the learning curve for Ms. Farmer has been immense. Conquering the shoes has been one of her biggest hurdles. At a rehearsal last month she made shuffling steps, banged her heels on the floor and frowned. “Holley is going through culture shock,” Ms. Tharp noted, looking on with a mix of fondness and concern.
On cue Ms. Farmer took a few steps forward. Ms. Tharp, trim and chic in blue jeans, a crisp white shirt and sneakers, rose from her chair — she rarely sits still during a rehearsal— and took Ms. Farmer by the hand to demonstrate how to deliver a sultry walk. “Think about a tightrope,” she said. “Fifth position.”