Perhaps Twyla Tharp's most popular work, Nine Sinatra Songs radiates glamour, excitement, passion, and fun as she flings her dancers at the best of Sinatra, from "My Way" to "Something Stupid," exhibiting what one prominent critic called her "slithers, blind leaps, upsy-daisy lifts."
Nine Sinatra Songs is the finest of the three works where Tharp has used Frank Sinatra recordings and her approach here to the sentiments therein are full of flair and sophistication. This is the Sinatra of the 1960's rather than the 1940's and his smooth pose is matched or mocked in each of the seven duets, plus two ensemble sections.
The music is Sinatra's and each one of the songs she has chosen has its own musical and dance/theater character. The basic unit of each dancing couple includes Tharp's reinforcement of the traditional ballroom unit, which is upscaled by the active participation of the female dancer.
The opener is based on the theme of infatuation, the next Tharp has characterized as a "bastardized Tango." Another was not based on any particular dance form, but showed a "close" couple in late night, knowing rapport. After a re-gathering of all the "characters" involved, a new dancing couple lends tart, comic relief. Unhurried glamour bathes the next dance, while the next couldn't be showier. This duo plays it straight, fast, front and center, in the manner of actual ballroom competition entrants. The capstone couple is one engrossed in a battle of wits and maneuvers. They play it hot, hard and furious, each giving as hard as he or she gets.
The final swell is a repeat of "My Way," recorded later than the first recapitulation's "My Way" accompaniment. The dance has become a wildly popular Tharp classic, presenting its view of 1950s social dancing through the nostalgic and yet sharpened eyes of the 1980s. Oscar de la Renta's dresses and tuxes flash with a similar double edge of present and previous ages.
This program will also feature George Balanchine's Serenade, considered a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet's repertory. Set to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48, there are four movements -- "Sonatina," "Waltz," "Russian Dance," and "Elegy." The last two movements reverse the order of the score, ending the ballet on a sad note.