Thursday, April 01, 2010

Come Fly Away

photo: Ruven Afanador

Twyla Tharp's evening set to Frank Sinatra songs doesn't add up to a musical in the way that her Billy Joel show Movin' Out did, partly because Joel's catalog came pre-equipped for the stage with characters and a narrative specificity that Sinatra songs lack. While each of the principal dancers is playing a character and expressing a distinct personality, the show isn't organized by a plot as much as by a general theme (of romantic love). However that's more than enough, thanks to Tharp's artistry and to the phenomenal abilities of her dancers, to hold Come Fly Away together as a transporting, often spellbinding show. By any standard I know, the dancing is spectacular. Tharp's choreography is highly expressive and individuated to her performers, whether pitched for comedy (Charlie Neshyba and Laura Mead, depicting a clumsy courtship) or for drama (Karine Plantadit and Keith Roberts, depicting a bruising love affair). Except for a curtain call that borders on the Vegas brand of tacky (in which the stars in the sky form a constellation to honor Ol' Blue Eyes), the show is artful and intelligent, the aesthetic opposite of this season's other Broadway dance show Burn The Floor.

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