TWYLA THARP – 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Sheila Kogan, November 2015
The Joyce Theater presented Twyla Tharp’s company at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in celebration of Twyla Tharp’s 50th year choreographing. For the occasion, Ms. Tharp fashioned two dances (each preceded by a fanfare composed by John Zorn). Although they are full of her signature quirky inventiveness, wit, charm and seemingly random playfulness, is it possible that too much of a good thing can be tiresome?
PRELUDES AND FUGUES is danced to the music of Bach. Generally, Tharp’s choreography is known for having an improvisional feel, which usually gives it an immediacy, but somehow in this piece the entrances and exits, and entrances and exits, and more entrances and exits, don’t add up. If you deleted one of the segments, I don’t think it would be missed.
YOWZIE, backed by a pastiche of jazz, is an antic, frantic, frenetic work, mostly played for laughs. The dancers were dressed in layers of tie-dyed fabrics in hot colors designed by Santo Loquasto. Everything is over the top. Amusing moments, but again, entrances and exits and little connective tissue, so it, too, becomes tiring.
As well as choreographing, Tharp, as director, has forged a company of extraordinary dancers who are accomplished in all styles. They can perform a classical grand jété, pirouette on a dime, do a silly walk or comic pratfall, move with the attitude of a street hustler, be as flexible as a gymnast or break into recognizable social dances. They have enormous energy and fabulous technique. Their stamina is amazing. Although they dance as a unified company, each one deserves special recognition: John Selya, Rika Okamoto, Matthew Dibble, Ron Todorowski, Daniel Baker, Amy Ruggiero, Ramona Kelley, Nicholas Coppula, Eva Trapp, Savannah Lowery, Reed Tankersley, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Eric Otto.
Twyla Tharp has fashioned some of the dance world’s most original and compelling choreography. Even now, after all these years, her dances seem fresh and new. The clever, unexpected juxtapositions, the inventive movements, and the signature playfulness are involving and very entertaining. Although these new dances may not be as successful as other work that she’s done, she still deserves to be celebrated. Congratulations on your 50th Anniversary, Twyla Tharp!