Twyla Tharp Moves in the Pacific Northwest

posted by Jenny Dalzell on Thursday, Jun 13, 2013
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Pacific Northwest Ballet School's students rehearsing Twyla Tharp's Sweet Fields.

Kicking off Twyla Tharp's new position as Pacific Northwest Ballet's first artist in residence, 12 students in the school's Professional Division will present her work Sweet Fields as part of their end-of-year performance this Saturday, June 15. (Stay tuned for a world premiere by Tharp during PNB's fall season in September!) Staged by former Tharp dancers Alexander Brady and Rika Okamoto, the piece will be accompanied by Seattle's Tudor Choir, a vocal chamber ensemble directed by Doug Fullington. (As you'll recall, Fullington is also a dance historian on PNB's artistic staff who was vital in creating PNB's re-sourced Giselle in 2011.)

 

PNB School Sweet Fields with Tudor Choir, by Lindsay Thomas
Students rehearse Sweet Fields with the Tudor Choir.

 

Created in 1996 on her (then) fledgling company, Tharp!, Sweet Fields is one of the legendary choreographer's great tributes to Americana. It's set to a suite of Shaker hymns—all choral, no instruments. While this piece is most often restaged at universities and on pre-professional students, it's rare that it's performed to live music, making PNB School's production all the more special. (One of Tharp's longtime dancers and repetiteurs, Elaine Kudo has said that the piece was originally performed to CD.) PNB students have been rehearsing the piece for three weeks. See them in the studio here.

 

The performances (at 1:30pm and 7pm) will also include excerpts from George Balanchine's Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet and Serenade, both performed by Professional Division students and accompanied by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. And of course, the matinee will bring some "awwww" moments, too: the school's youngest ballerinas in the children's division will perform works by PNB School faculty.

 

PNB School Level 1 in rehearsal, by Lindsey Thomas, Courtesy PNB
Level I students rehearsing for their big debut.

 

For more information about the production and for tickets, click here.

 

All photos by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.