Friday, April 17, 2015


By Nancy Condit

Last night's triple bill of Nine Sinatra Songs, choreographed by Twyla Tharp in 1982 and set by Shelly Washington, Dear Miss Cline, choreographed by Amy Seiwert in 2011, and Stanton Welch's Play, choreographed in 2004 to music by Moby brought the Civic Center audience to their feet Friday night.

The music made the pieces as Frank Sinatra's, and his daughter Nancy's voices in one of the nine, and Patsy Cline's in the second added the generations familiar songs. Familiar except, as Shelley Washington, from the Tharp company, pointed out, to the dancers. "We were googling the songs to listen to them, since almost none of them were over 28," she said in the pre-performance lecture. Moby's techno music added the beat that left theater goers sounding the beat long after they left the Civic Center.

"Twyla Tharp was one of the first to use popular songs. I wanted it for our company -- to push the dancers," Robert Mills, artistic director in the lecture. 

The dancers were certainly up to being pushed, as they performed the lyricism of many of the Sinatra pieces, and the outright humor and sadness of "One for My Baby," Seiwert's lifts, and Welsh's big city feel as dancers walked rapidly back and forth, leaving a just arrived in this country man on the sidelines to watch. The end of Welsh's piece was particularly well done as the women -- on point, rushed across the stage flipping their heads and hair up and down, and the men formed a triangle of dancers moving in unison to the music's beat.

Spanning 40 years, ballets were performed in order in Oscar de la Renta designed cocktail dresses, tuxes and heels, stylized gingham country dresses on point, and business suits on point.

Tickets are available for Saturday's 8:00 pm and Sunday's 2:00 pm performances online at   
or at the Civic Center before the performance.

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