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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Twyla Tharp Presents "How Long Blues"

Twyla Tharp Presents "How Long Blues"

Twyla Tharp

Performance Date:
June 16, 2024

Freeform Review:

How Long Blues is one full hour of joy, bliss, heartache, love, and a sincere display of dance as a mechanism for story-telling. Set at the Little Island Amphitheater in Chelsea, Manhattan the stage is positioned amidst the dewy sun setting along the Hudson River. The work provides the viewer just enough details to create their own narrative, a storyline with equal parts flow and unease. With choreography by Twyla Tharp and music by T Bone Burnett and David Mansfield, it is a true collaboration of legendary artists and art-makers.

The work begins with scenes from what one might call very ordinary life: a man going out to dinner and individuals playing soccer. After a significant change in a plot, a sense of chaos begins to brew. After the death of the main character's partner, we see the inner workings of the man’s mind reflected on the stage, within the dancing.

The dancers embody the feelings the man has, clearly and with great certainty. Not a moment of hesitation is conveyed as the dancers throw their bodies into large lifts, jumps, and turns, both technically profound and artistically proficient. The range of emotions demonstrated within the dancing allows the audience to create their own meaning behind each of the different scenic transitions.

In one scene that feels as if a nightmare is taking place, the dancers run around the stage with chaos and urgency as a ball is being tossed around. In a far different scene puppets dance in duos, offering comic relief and confusion. In a lyrical scene danced to “Hallelujah,” we see the artists circling around in white flowing dresses with breath and ease in their movements.

The motions are strong and powerful, rooted into the ground, yet effortless. We feel this deep connection to the earth, to the ground, and to our roots, while simultaneously feeling a sense of light and air, with hope just around the corner. This dichotomy is used again and again where we can’t quite categorize the style being performed, breathing new life and meaning into dance.

As the piece concludes, the sun reaches its final resting place for the evening, and life on stage resumes to what feels like a new normal, less chaos, more clarity. There is a sense of celebration in the Latin-inspired dancing, upbeat and honest. The piece reflects a microcosm of life in NYC: a continuous state of rupture and repair, both tending to the neverending chaos and also finding joy within the smallest of moments.


Rachel Marchica

Photo Credit:
Julieta Cervantes

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