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 Post subject: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 10:27 am 
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Location: London
Twyla Tharp Dance
Sadler's Wells
2 - 5 July, 7.30pm & Sat 5 July, 2.30pm
Pre-performance Talk: Dance Revealed 3 July, 6.15pm - 7.15pm with Judith Mackrell
(FREE, pre-booking required, BSL interpretation as part of Deaf Debating Dance)
Tickets £10 - £40. Ticket Office 020 7863 8000

Sadler's Wells presents Twyla Tharp, one of America's greatest choreographers, and her newly reformed troupe Twyla Tharp Dance. The Company makes its British debut at Sadler's Wells performing a triple bill of recent Tharp choreography including Westerly Round, Even the King and Surfer at the River Styx from 2 - 5 July at 7.30pm. For the matinee performance on Saturday 5 July, Twyla Tharp Dance performs an alternative lighter programme that includes the classic Fugue, Even the King, Known by Heart Duet and Westerly Round.


Twyla Tharp is the director and choreographer of the biggest current hit on Broadway, Movin' Out, set to the music of Billy Joel. Her versatility as a choreographer is unrivalled and since 1963 she has created more than 125 dances, choreographed five Hollywood movies (including Hair, Amadeus and White Nights with Mikhail Baryshnikov), written an autobiography, won two Emmy awards and received 17 honorary doctorates. As well as leading her own company she has created works for the Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet and The Martha Graham Company.

At Sadler's Wells Twyla Tharp Dance performs Surfer at the River Styx (2000) which is loosely based on Euripides' The Bacchae and is a collaboration with percussionist and composer Donald Knaack, featuring music created on recycled materials including pots and pans. Westerly Round (2001), is a witty work set to music by composer and violin maestro Mark O'Connor, fusing elegant classical ballet with the spirit of American folk dance. Charged with flirtatious energy and set as an abstract square dance Westerly Round is a cowboy romance for the 21st century.

In Fugue, created in 1970, Tharp uses everyday movements executed within a complex choreographic system of 20 counts. Unaccompanied by music, Fugue's footfalls translate dance into sound on an electronically amplified stage, creating a vivid pulse.

Even The King is a balletic love story set to Johann Strauss' Emperor Waltz. The dancers perform around a perpetually empty chair, soaring around the check-tiled floor competing for the affections of a central lover. Known by Heart Duet, performed to Donald Knaack's Junk Music is an excerpt from a suite of dances originally commissioned by American Ballet Theatre in 1998. Tharp takes the formal structure of the classical duet, (an adagio, two solos and a coda) and works it into a fierce, sometimes combative contemporary partnership.

<small>[ 18 February 2004, 08:06 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2003 9:56 pm 
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The rebel leader of her pack
She may be the queen of Broadway but Twyla Tharp is still throwing herself into her small troupe of maverick dancers. By Debra Craine for The Times.


THERE’S NOTHING like a Broadway hit to give one a boost. So no wonder Twyla Tharp is sitting on top of the world. Her new dance musical Movin’ Out, which she conceived, choreographed and directed to the songs of Billy Joel, is one of the hottest shows in New York. Thanks to her gutsy, gorgeous choreography, this tale of friendship and romance during the Vietnam era has wooed a traditional theatregoing audience, while Tharp herself has picked up a Tony Award. As she puts it, “for the first time dancers are really mainlining on Broadway”.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 12:31 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Article from The Guardian.

Quote:
It is 38 years since Twyla Tharp blazed a fierce experimental trail with her first public piece. Tank Dive was a seven-minute number whose meticulous moves Tharp considered a groundbreaking deconstruction of the art form. The critics didn't exactly disagree - they simply failed to attend its downtown premiere.
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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 3:50 am 
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The avant-garde traditionalist
Twyla Tharp is thrilled to be back at Sadler's Wells - and now she's more than a 'funny' name
By Charlotte Cripps for The Independent

Twyla Tharp, one of America's great choreographers, is excited. She has just won two Tony Awards for the Broadway hit, Movin' Out, set to music by Billy Joel - and she's looking forward to performing at Sadler's Wells with her newly reformed troupe, Twyla Tharp Dance.

"I've always enjoyed British audiences," says Tharp, who remembers her first trip to London fondly, despite having to sleep on someone's floor throughout - and despite receiving a review that commented more on her "funny-sounding" name than her choreography.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2003 1:58 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Times.

Quote:
THE American choreographer Twyla Tharp likes to think big — her award-winning Broadway show Movin’ Out is proof of that — but she’s also more than happy to think small. Which is why she has regrouped her famous repertory dance company into a tight-knit ensemble of seven who travel without sets, elaborate costumes or live music. The only thing they bring to Sadler’s Wells this week is dance. Brilliant, nourishing, dazzling dance.
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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2003 12:06 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Telegraph.

Quote:
There's a winning truculence about Twyla Tharp in person that always gives me high expectations of her dance. Bustling, no-nonsense, sexy and amusing - these are all Tharpian. But her tone on stage is harder to get a grip on than those of her peer choreographers, such as Morris, Taylor, Cunningham or Brown.

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And from The Guardian.

Quote:
London audiences may be longing to see Twyla Tharp's new Broadway musical, but her talent flourishes best when it doesn't play straight to the crowd. In her current touring programme, it is the works dominated by Tharp's private demons and formal obsessions that are stamped most emphatically with her peculiar genius.
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<small>[ 04 July 2003, 02:09 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 4:34 am 
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That's enough bravura
The new Twyla Tharp puts style before content. By Jann Parry for The Observer

Post-millenial Twyla Tharp is a reinvention I'm struggling to come to terms with. Her new chamber group, formed in 2000, is different from previous companies, and her latest work seems influenced by her successful Broadway show Movin' Out. No, she's not selling out but she is selling her dancers short on content, if not on aerobic workouts.

They include Matthew Dibble, who left the Royal Ballet four years ago to join Tetsuya Kumakawa's K Ballet in Japan. He's become Tharp's bravura ballet boy, competing in the virtuoso stakes with Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, too compact (and bald) to be a danseur noble, though he can do all the steps and more.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 5:12 am 
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Twyla Tharp at Sadler's Wells
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


Twyla Tharp has been driving dance forward for more than 30 years, sometimes kicking it, sometimes cajoling it, sometimes twisting its cussed neck by making it look at things different from those it thought it should be looking at. For three decades I have been her devoted admirer, and as she brings her dancers back to London this week, I see again why I have so loved her work. Quick muscles, quick feet, reactions quicker still, are there on stage to excite our eyes, and movement that refuses to categorise or be categorised: if it's good, Tharp uses it. (And if it's not especially good, Tharp makes it better, brighter.) Dance alive, alert, performed by artists no less sharp in attack.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Jul 06, 2003 1:51 pm 
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Location: London
Twyla Tharp Dance
Sadler’s Wells
July, 2003


The curtain opened for Twyla Tharp’s “Known by Heart Duet” to reveal a set-less open space lit with muted tones. I was immediately transported to New York’s SoHo Grand Hotel. Lynda Sing’s silky shift dress in taupe paired with Matthew Dibble’s creamy grey collarless shirt and trouser ensemble, is reminiscent of the muted tones of the soft furnishings in the aforementioned hotel. And I can imagine that Ms Tharp and her brand of choreography, for a brand her dance style has become, is much feted in the consciously modern bars of downtown SoHo. What I am driving at is that “Known by Heart Duet” and the evening’s closing piece, “Surfer at the River Styx,” are thoroughly modern. Not in the Martha Graham sense of modern dance and not avant-garde in the direction in which William Forsythe has taken Ballett Frankfurt, but rather Twarp fuses all aspects of the classical with the popular and the contemporary. Ms Sing may dance ‘on pointe’ in “Known by Heart Duet” but that characteristic “All that Jazz” move - the quick step to the side with the other leg dragged in yo meet the supporting leg with a slow drag and raised hip – is fused with classical arms and body line. Tharp is equally at home choreographing to Beethoven as to Donald Knaack’s percussion modelled on disused junk. Ms Tharp is fully integrated into modern America and the modern American’s life.

Tharp has choreographed over 120 works and is still in demand so she is not a trendy fad. Her choreography is in the repertoire of companies as diverse as American Ballet Theater, Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet Company and Hubbard Street Dance Company and The Martha Graham Company. In other words, her brand speaks to, and she can adapt to, any kind of dancer’s body and company style. The whole look is modern. The costumes look like the sort of thing one ought to wear in order to fit in with the crowd that habituates the dimly-lit bars of fashionable America. Ms Tharp has infiltrated the entire spectrum of modern culture: she has choreographed five Hollywood movies, has won two Tony Awards for the Broadway hit “Movin’ Out” set to music by Billy Joel, has won two Emmy awards and received 18 honorary doctorates. She was the obvious choice to create a piece on the Russian superstar Baryshnikov who, freshy arrived in New York in the seventies, was eager to explore new music and new movement. She took jazz and she took ballet and she gave him “Push Comes to Shove.” Yet the most important element of Tharpism seems to be that it has moved with the times. In the sixties she joined the Judson Church movement. She ran her own dance company – not a pick-up troupe but a full-time, full-salaried company of dancers – until the late eighties. When that started to prove uneconomical she disbanded the company and assimilated her dancers into ABT which she joined as Artistic Associate to the then Artistic Director, Baryshnikov. After that she freelanced and then for the new Millenium she established another company. Evolution and adaptation to changing tastes are the marks of a good brand.

Tharp’s dancers move seamlessly between ballet, modern dance and jazz, often all in one piece. Not just because they have been well taught but because they are inherently good dancers. Matthew Dibble is quite brilliant. He has strong technique learned from the Royal Ballet School (and no doubt polished while he was a soloist with the Royal) and a mercurial speed that allow him literally to devour Tharp’s composition. That is not to say that his delivery is ahead of the music. His jazzy inversions and delayed drags are right on cue and his energy carefully managed, faithful to the doctrine which dictates that ‘less is more’. He probably acquired his high-octane delivery from his former employment with Teddy Kumakawa’s ‘K Ballet’ in Japan. (He was one of the four founding members newly defected from the Royal Ballet and it struck me that with his short-cropped hair and enthusiastic dancing he could easily qualify as the third ‘Ballet Boyz.’) The choreographed partnership between Sing and Dibble is again thoroughly modern – they are formal and contrived with each other at times, they let down their defences and emote and they interact comically. There is pure balletic lyricism, set to Knaack’s percussive egg-box and bottle top music, and classical partnering blended with modern informal interaction.

“The Fugue” has acquired the reputation for being vintage Tharp. Made in the seventies, it is a piece without music set to the heel tap and stomp sounds of the three dancers. It is clever and the two boys – Jason McDole and Dario Vaccaro - and one girl – Whitney Simler – do their damnedest to entertain us. But the truth is the piece (which is a mere 14 minutes long) drags and outlives its cleverness.

“Westerly Round,” a ‘feel-good’ Americana piece set to Mark O’Connor’s “Call of the Mockingbird” reignited the proceedings. It is not a great piece insofar as I wouldn’t mind if I never saw the choreography again. Yet it is a perfect showcase for good dancing and former Sacramento dancer, Charlie Neshyba Hodges, shows off his sublime virtuosity and perfect comic timing as he cavorts, skips and jumps in combat with McDole and Vaccaro to compete for the attention of the all American-gal, Emily Coates. It is life lived out in a square dance.

For the 30 minute closing work, we are back in lobby bar of the SoHo Grand. The dancers are carefully and flatteringly illuminated by lighting designer Scott Zielinski to stand out from the darkness as if lit from below by the soft warm tones of candlelight. The choreography incorporates the full gamut of Tharp moves and the totality of the work and the performances by the sextet of dancers, featuring all the dancers from the first three works, demonstrates the depth of the Twarp brand. Now we have drama and darkly threatening moments. There is traditional coupling, dancing in splinter groups, dancing in unison and groups dancing simultaneously but performing differing steps. Sing and Coates dance in soft shoes but the work is again based on strong ballet technique – classical and neo-classical. A good comparison for the piece would be Wayne MacGregor’s piece “Symbiont(s)” made on Royal Ballet dancers and contemporary dancers who were encouraged to experiment with each other’s technique. When the choreography is devised, and executed, well, the ballet dancer should invert and contort, and the contemporary dancer should elongate muscles and present arms like a classical deity, as if second nature to them.

I came away from the evening thinking that I understood the essence of Tharp. Her work is like a Donna Karan suit: impeccably cut to fit the contours of the body; understated and restrained; with a hidden sexy pzazz that reveals itself as the dancer moves and the choreography unfolds.

<small>[ 31 July 2003, 12:11 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2003 8:50 am 
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Many thanks for your review Emma. I saw the programme on Friday and found it good, but not quite as good as I had hoped from the very positive reviews from several of the London critics.

Twyla Tharp clearly has a great facility for making choreography and "The Fugue" is an innovative work from 30 years ago that still looks as fresh as paint. I saw it at The Barbican 6 years ago or so with a more percussive aesthetic and both versions work well.

Tharpe's dancers are nearly all from the ballet world now and, as in the Royal Ballet's ill-fated "Mr Worldly Wise" by the same choreographer, I remain unconvinced by the more balletic pieces. In addition the programme notes keep talking about wit, but I have to say that the phrase that occurred to me from time to time was belly laughs and not as effective as the Trocks at that. "Known by Heart" made for American Ballet Theatre was the worst offender on both counts. However, an inspired performance by Matthew Dibble and the overall fluency of the choreography saved the day.

Apart from Dibble, Charlie Neshyba Hodges, a short barrel of a man, was also outstanding, especially in "Surfer at the River Styx". He has fab technique, a movement quality you don't often see and makes his distinctive shape an advantage rather than the reverse. In general my impression is that the women fare less well with Tharp's choreography.

"Westerly Round" had a joie de vivre that was difficult to resist even if these were some of the most unlikely cowboys ever seen. "Surfer" was sustained by Dibble and Hodges, otherwise I think 30 minutes stretched the material.

If i was giving stars it would be 3 rather than the 4 or 5 that some of the national critics have handed out.

<small>[ 07 July 2003, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:43 pm 
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Review from The Independent.

Quote:
Twyla Tharp's choreography resembles the way she talks: fast, dense, knowing, designed to impress. At best, the results can be sassy and energising; at worst, it becomes verbose, fixated on its own technical cleverness. Both extremes appear in the programme of mostly recent work brought by Twyla Tharp Dance, once again resuscitated for its present international tour.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:50 am 
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<img src="http://www.dancing-times.co.uk/Pics/dancingtimes/200307/front.jpg" alt="" />

Twyla Tharp returns
Since 1965, Twyla Tharp has created more than 130 dances, choreographed five Hollywood movies, written an autobiography and won countless awards. This month, her newly reformed group, Twyla Tharp Dance, makes its debut at Sadler’s Wells. Robert Greskovic for The Dancing Times reports on her career so far and what her new programme of work will include.

More than 20 years ago, Twyla Tharp paused to look back on her career as a dancer and dancemaker, then some 17 years along. As leading dancer and director of Twyla Tharp Dance Company, the 41-year-old woman put together a television programme called “Twyla Tharp Scrapbook”, which first aired in October, 1982.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2003 11:28 pm 
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Twyla Tharp
Can’t end too soon for David Dougall in The Sunday Times.


The musical variety of ENB’s programme (with orchestra, of course) made a salutary antidote to the offerings of Twyla Tharp Dance, from New York, who had appeared at Sadler’s Wells the week before. It is 20 years since a Tharp company was last at the old Wells. Her present troupe of seven fine dancers is a newly formed one, and includes an Englishman, the talented Matthew Dibble, formerly of the Royal Ballet.

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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 2:43 pm 
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I saw Twyla Tharp on the Wednesday, and - as an increasingly big Tharp fan - have a couple of questions....

First question is on The Fugue. Can somebody who really gets this piece, and feels for it, try to explain why to me? I struggled continuously trying to track a rhythm that just didn't seem to have any phrasing (the programme later told me that it was 20 beats to a bar - silly me for not realising...), and the dancers just didn't seem to connect with each other. All in all, I just ended up very confused (& even a bit bored?). Can someone translate some of the passion for me?!

Second question... Starts with a point of view. I have to say that I was absolutely blown away with 'Surfer'. Absolutely.
While a great deal of this was no doubt due to exceptional choreography, beautiful execution, and highly charged music, I also thought that the lighting and costumes had a great deal to do with it. With several companies electing to perform practically as they would appear in class, I really felt this performance was lifted high by a sharp, strong lighting design that threw the work of the dancers into very powerful relief, playing with shadows, spotlights and costumes to great effect.

So the other question I came away with was... have we gone too far towards stripped-down performance in modern dance? Why do we need to see performers loafing around in the wings? What does (effectively) classroom lighting give to a performance? OK - I would agree that to get to the soul of things it's good to be able to focus on the body - but can't more ambitious artistic arrangement help as well as hinder this?


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 Post subject: Re: Twyla Tharp in London - 2003
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 11:48 pm 
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Article from the FT.

Quote:
As Movin' Out, Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel's hit dance musical on Broadway, has absorbed most of her dancers, Tharp has assembled a new company. She has a talent for picking the best and if her latest band of eight knockout performers - such as Mathew Dibble, late of the Royal Ballet and K Ballet in Japan, Emily Coats, Charlie Neshebba Hodges, Whitney Simlar, Lynda Sing, Jason McDole and Dario Vaccaro dancing on opening night - is typical of the rest of the company, it's a group that's as brilliant, if not better, than ever.


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