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Twyla Now: Twyla Tharp at City Center


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I'm so jazzed by seeing Twyla Now last night. For those who didn't go it is all Twyla Tharp choreography: 

Cornbread with Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia

Second Duet with Jacqueline Harris and James Gilmer

Pergolesi with Sara Mearns and Robert Fairchild 

All In, with all the previous dancers plus Aran Bell, Cassandra Trenary and 6 young dancers Twyla "discovered" on the internet: Brady Farrar, Savannah Kristich, Zoe Leibold, Jaiden Galan Roman, Alycia Williams and William Woodward

It's all fabulous.

It was a highlight for me to see Robert Fairchild dancing again. Pergolesi was originally created for Tharp and Baryshnikov. In this case Fairchild takes Tharp's role and Mearns dances the Baryshnikov part. They are fabulous and the gender reversal adds depth to the piece; Fairchild and Mearns embodying some of the originals' characters and idiosyncracies.

Did anyone else catch it?

 

 

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BalanchineFan, I'm not a big Twyla fan although I enjoy and admire some of her works very much (I wish ABT would bring back Push Comes to Shove.). I'd love to hear more of a review of the specific pieces.

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Cornbread is a bravura delight. Upbeat dancing to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They sound like bluegrass, but I'm not up on my musical genres. Both Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia look fabulous and I think Twyla should let them do the piece until their legs drop off from old age. Oh, and Mejia takes his shirt off. My hormones haven't calmed down yet. Really nice, playful dancing, bravura displays, tender at times. A brilliant opener.

Second Duet, is a world premiere. The music is live piano and cello, though it sounds like electronic music at times. It's a compelling duet, with a few additional dancers walking and sitting upstage behind a scrim at one point. The dancers are stellar, it's the only duet for modern dancers, with spectacular lifts and partnering. The mood is more subdued, though, less showy and more intimate. James Gilmer has his shirt off, as well. My companion is hoping he never puts it back on. The entire evening's cast is like a dream team, physical beauty, technical aplomb, artistry, everything you might want, and these two, Jacqueline Harris and Gilmer, are prime examples in every way. She's a little spark of energy and style. The piece runs a touch long, but one can easily imagine Twyla getting carried away working with them.

Pergolesi, Fairchild and Mearns dressed in white. I honestly couldn't tell Mearns gender when she first appeared. I've seen her in a tutu, in a leotard, in a pink unitard dancing Cunningham, or silk robes doing Isadora Duncan, but now in a sleeveless T and pants she seems almost mannish, brilliantly appropriate for the Baryshnikov role. The dancing is great, a few quotes from Baryshnikov's oeuvre and from Twyla's. Fairchild is a revelation, I so wish he was performing more often where everyone could see him. 

All In unites all the previous casts with the couple from ABT and the young ensemble. The Peck-Mejia pair, the Harris-Gilmer pair, Bell-Trenary and the ensemble have a section where they dance independently and then all together, changing partners every so often as the ensemble moves through and around them from time to time. (IF you were concerned about ex marrieds dancing together, they don't). The youngsters are spectacular, sliding around on the floor and doing their show stopping moves. Bell and Trenary look great, but I kept wondering if they were late additions or if there was something in ABT's schedule that kept them from doing a separate duet, like the other couples. The "main" duet here was for Fairchild and Mearns, dancing on pointe now, the two of them alone onstage. The whole group comes together for the finale.

It was an entirely enjoyable, often thrilling evening of dance from a master using her All-Stars. Hard to believe that Twyla, the woman who turned ballet on its head, is now 80 years old. May we all have an 80th birthday like this.

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

Upbeat dancing to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They sound like bluegrass, but I'm not up on my musical genres.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops billed themselves as an "old-time string band." (They stopped performing together sometime around 2014 or 2015. Their most well-known member is probably Rhiannon Giddens, who, among other things, hosts  WNYC's opera podcast Aria Code.) 

Old-time string band music might be thought of as the older folk cousin of the more recent (and commercial) bluegrass, which really didn't take off until the 1940s/50s. Bluegrass is a "stricter" genre: it has specific instrumentation (upright bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle with the dobro as an option), a hierarchy of which instrument plays what in the overall rhythmic and harmonic texture, almost always features vocals sung in harmony, always features improvisation, and celebrates virtuosity. Old-time string bands use a wider diversity of instruments, textures, and rhythms and, most relevant here, play music originally intended for dancing. 

Here's Cornbread and Butterbeans to liven up your evening:

 

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