I was so happy to wake up to a giant photograph of my statuesque friend and guest contributor, Kaitlyn Gilliland, in the New York Times yesterday morning. I have been visiting family in Pittsburgh, but anyone in New York this week should not miss the opportunity to see her dance with Twyla Tharp’s troupe at the Joyce!
I once read that the urge to dance necessarily comes from a place of joy. The way a dog shimmies when it is excited to see its owner or the way a baby laughs while kicking its arms and legs are examples of an innate drive to move in euphoric moments. The fact that weddings involve dancing and funerals mostly involve sitting (today that is—in the Ancient world the Egyptians and other peoples staged funerals as celebratory rebirth ceremonies with lots of dancing) would also support this claim. Intuitively, this evolutionary biology theory seems plausible, for I certainly never feel like dancing when I’m sick or depressed.
Twyla Tharp seems to understand this idea, and her propensity for shimmying and shaking feels right so much of the time—like when she uses jerky phrases to undercut the serious perfection of music like Bach’s, as she does in her new piece Preludes and Fugues, to excerpts from his Well-Tempered Clavier I and II which I saw at the David H. Koch Theater last weekend. The messy humanness of these interpolated tics marries so well with the sanctity of the Bach—music that is so beautiful it hardly seems like it could be man-made. How can one not spasmodically rejoice that something so perfect exists? Great music (and great art in any form) can indeed tingle the spine and make one involuntarily shiver.
Preludes and Fugues was one of four new pieces Tharp made for her 50th Anniversary Tour. The troupe performed for ten weeks all across the country, but the Koch Theater—its final stop—could not be a more perfect setting for the program. The choreographic bookends which opened each half of the show, First Fanfare and Second Fanfare (to annunciatory brass compositions by John Zorn), echoed the Fanfare for a New Theater which Igor Stravinsky created for the inauguration of the building in 1964. In fact, the massive chandelier which hangs over the auditorium is meant to evoke