|In the Upper Room. Photo: Christopher Duggan|
Twyla Tharp, the pioneering sui generis choreographer now in her 80s, continues to make new work, but when you've created such beloved icons as In the Upper Room and Nine Sinatra Songs, why not show them to audiences both old and appreciative and young and curious? New York City Center reprised these two hits, for which a crackerjack cast was assembled—no small feat given the gordian knot of scheduling, plus the technical and mental demands. Even the finest ballet companies with peak gifts (locally, ABT in recent decades) can find the tempo, endurance, and difficulty of Upper Room demanding.
Daniil Simkin, a former principal, returned to reprise the role of the Boy (which he originated in 2017) who eats too many confections and winds up in the hospital, where he hallucinates the drama that we see. Simkin's remarkable ballon and bravura, plus his affable boyishness, elevate the entire ballet. The central characters of Princess Tea Flower (Devon Teuscher) and Prince Coffee (Cory Stearns) have an extended duet, in which she is charmingly langorous. A trio performs as slapstick liquors (Zhong-Jing Fang, Blaine Hoven, Roman Zhurbin), a section which feels imbued with forced hilarity, but shows Ratmansky's relatable humor.
Edward Hopper, Study for Approaching a City, 1946. Fabricated chalk on paper, 8.5 x 11”. Whitney Museum, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.184. © 2022 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper/Licensed by Artists Rights Society, NY
Edward Hopper, Blackwell’s Island, 1928. Oil on canvas, 34.5 x 59.5”. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. © 2022 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper/Licensed by Artists Rights Society, NY. Image courtesy Art Resource, NY. Photo: Edward C. Robison III