Twyla Tharp at the Auditorium Theatre Review – The 50th Anniversary Tour

Excitement was in the air at the Auditorium Theatre as the audience awaited the two new works created for the Twyla Tharp – 50th Anniversary Tour. This undertaking was a momentous co-commission with Ravinia Festival, (as well as four other dance presenters in four other cities). The two new works created by world-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp drew an enthusiastic audience response. There are only a few more opportunities to see this outstanding production, Friday, Nov. 6 – Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at by calling (312) 341-2300 or in-person at the Auditorium Theatre’s Box Office, 50 E. Congress Parkway.


Preludes and Fugues double duet

Thinking of the earlier works by Twyla Tharp, I had seen over the years, I was not sure what to expect, but these fresh new works took my breath away.  The works presented were not a retrospective of earlier works but completely new works for her troupe of 13 dancers for this ambitious tour.  Certainly 50 years of creativity is deserving of this attention. This was a night to remember.


Preludes and Fugues

We, in Chicago, are fortunate to be part of the ten-week cross-country celebration and to have the opportunity to enjoy these works, “Preludes and Fugues” and “Yowzie.” “Preludes and Fugues” is set to excerpts from J. S. Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” Volumes 1 & 2, and “Yowzie” to a selection of music from “Viper’s Drag,” a compilation of jazz arranged by Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein. Each dance is introduced by a fanfare, both composed by John ZornSanto Loquasto designed the costumes for all the dances and James Ingalls, the lighting.



In a program note describing the evening, Tharp says, “Simply put, ‘Preludes and Fugues’ is the world as it ought to be, ‘Yowzie’ as it is. The ‘Fanfares’ celebrate both.”  Everything about this evening was remarkable-the dancers, of course, but also the costumes, lighting, stage design, and music.


I found the range of dance styles noteworthy and fascinating.  The movement and music were tightly bound and the movement was seamless. It was a wonderful evening of exciting, energetic and thrilling dance.



Preludes and Fugues



The dancers are from all parts of the United States and places around the globe and include: John SelyaRika OkamotoMatthew Dibble and Ron Todorowski. Newer to Tharp are Daniel BakerAmy RuggieroRamona KelleyNicholas CoppulaEva TrappSavannah LoweryReed TankersleyKaitlyn Gilliland and Eric Otto.



This was an evening appreciated by other dancers.  We spoke with two dancers who managed to come from the Harris Theatre where they are performing with the Jessica Lang Dance Company, a young woman rehearsing for a role in the upcoming Lyric Opera of Chicago production of “Merry Widow” and dancer Reed Tankersley’s  Mom visiting from the Bay Area.



Twyla Tharp’s new works are commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre and Ravinia Festival (Chicago), The Joyce Theater (New York), The Kennedy Center (Washington), TITAS/AT&T Performing Arts Center (Dallas), and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (Beverly Hills).

 More about the Twyla Tharp Tour

All images by Sharen Bradford

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