Brief Fling


Michel Colombier and Percy Grainger
(Country Gardens, 1918; Handel in the Strand, 1912)


Twyla Tharp


Matthew Dibble

Original Costume Design

Isaac Mizrahi

Original Lighting Design

Jennifer Tipton


27 minutes


February 28, 1990; American Ballet Theatre (San Francisco, California)

PNB Premiere

September 27, 2013

Principal support for the 2013 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling was provided by Lyndall Boal and Peter & Peggy Horvitz. Additional support provided by Bonnie Towne, Norma Cugini, Jane M. & David R. Davis, and Kalen & Sean Holmes.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2016 performances of Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling mark the first-ever performances of this ballet with live music. PNB thanks Dana Colombier for providing original musical materials.

Program Notes

Brief Fling is Mikhail Baryshnikov’s last commission from Twyla Tharp during his tenure as artistic director of American Ballet Theatre. The title references both the traditional Scottish dance and a short-lived romance. Isaac Mizrahi’s tartan costumes divide the dancers into clans of blue, red, green, and off-white.

In the opening section, two soloist couples in red and a quartet in green punch out syncopated phrases to a military tattoo. The principal couple clad in blue, originally danced by Cheryl Yeager and Julio Bocca, performs an extended set of variations to an English folk song backed by the ensemble dancers dressed in off-white. The finale features each clan in succession, compounding into a furioso fugue.

The score by Michel Colombier intersperses Percy Grainger’s sunny interpretations of traditional melodies from the United Kingdom with an ominous electronic score.

Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Productions. Used by permission.