Waterbaby Bagatelles

Music: 20th-century bagatelles (Anton Webern: Sehr langsam, excerpt from Six Bagatelles, Op. 9; Kevin Volans: White Man Sleeps #5; John Lurie: Bella by Barlight; David Lang: The Anvil Chorus; Astor Piazzolla: Fear, from Five Tango Sensations; Mickey Hart: The Hunt; John Adams: On the Dominant Divide [Part II of Grand Pianola Music])
Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Staging: Shelley Washington
Scenic and Costume Design: Santo Loquasto
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Duration: 28 minutes
Premiere: April 30, 1994; Boston Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: November 2, 2006

Kaori Nakamura in Waterbaby Bagatelles.
Photo © Angela Sterling

The 2006 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles was generously underwritten in part by Aya Stark Hamilton and Carl & Renee Behnke.

Bagatelles are short and unpretentious musical compositions. Twyla Tharp’s array of ballet bagatelles is danced on the pristine surface of a stage overhung and aqueously lighted by rows of fluorescent light tubes, like those that might illuminate an aquarium. The mostly bare-chested men and the sometimes bathing-capped women reinforce the dance's swimming or water connection. Riding on the music's pulse and the dance's momentum, they occasionally scoot in and out as if jogging, backwards as often as forward. Taking inspiration from a musical range that goes from 12-tone innovator Anton Webern through Tango man Astor Piazzolla, Tharp's dances curvet over the stage as if the dancers were schools of fish.

Recommended Listening:
Anton Webern, John Lurie: Winter was hard, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch 79181
Volans: White Man Sleeps, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch 79163
Lang: Drumming, Evelyn Glennie, RCA 68195
Piazolla: Five Tango Sensations, Kronos Quartet, Nonesuch
Hart: Planet Drum, Mickey Hart, Rykodisc 10206
Adams: Chamber Symphony; Grand Pianola Music, London Sinfonietta/John Adams, Nonesuch 79219

Recommended Reading:
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, By Twyla Tharp (Simon & Schuster, 2003)
Howling Near Heaven: Twyla Tharp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance, By Marcia Siegel (St. Martin's Press, 2006)

Notes courtesy of Twyla Tharp Productions. Used by permission.

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