Bagatelles are short and unpretentious musical compositions. Twyla Tharp’s array of ballet bagatelles is danced on the pristine surface of a stage overhung and aqueously lighted by rows of fluorescent light tubes, like those that might illuminate an aquarium. The mostly bare-chested men and the sometimes bathing-capped women reinforce the dance’s swimming or water connection. Riding on the music’s pulse and the dance’s momentum, they occasionally scoot in and out as if jogging, backwards as often as forward. Taking inspiration from a musical range that goes from 12-tone innovator Anton Webern through Tango man Astor Piazzolla, Tharp’s dances curvet over the stage as if the dancers were schools of fish.
Anton Webern, John Lurie: Winter was hard, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch 79181
Volans: White Man Sleeps, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch 79163
Lang: Drumming, Evelyn Glennie, RCA 68195
Piazolla: Five Tango Sensations, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch
Hart: Planet Drum, Mickey Hart, Rykodisc 10206
Adams: Chamber Symphony; Grand Pianola Music, London Sinfonietta/John Adams, Nonesuch 79219
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, By Twyla Tharp (Simon & Schuster, 2003)
Howling Near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance, By Marcia Siegel (St. Martin’s Press, 2006)
Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Productions. Used by permission.