Longing to be in the “Upper Room”

David Hallberg and Paloma Herrera in “In the Upper Room”

About a year ago, I saw one of the most memorable and exhilarating performances of my life: Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” performed by ABT at City Center. Although I had seen this ballet in ABT’s 2005 season at City Center, the performance I saw in 2006, along with Allison, was one of those breathtaking, out-of-body, life-changing experiences that sticks with you forever. The dancers were right on the music – which is critical in this marathon of a ballet, always anticipating what would come next. The stellar cast included Sascha Radetsky in the trio of men in sneakers. I have never seen anyone dance with as much intensity, power, force, clarity, and sheer love of movement as Sascha did that night. Furthermore, he managed to transfer his own adrenaline rush directly to the audience (or at least directly to me). My heart was racing by the end of this performance and my muscles longing to feel what these dancers feel when they perform Tharp’s masterpiece. The addition of fog on stage and Philip Glass’s beautiful and at times haunting score makes this one of my favorites – if not my favorite – ballets of all time. I was terribly disappointed that ABT didn’t perform “Room” this season. It received standing ovations last year and the audience was roaring. If you’ve seen this ballet, hopefully you love it as much as I do. If you haven’t seen “Room”, you should definitely make an effort to see it next time it’s performed near or in your city, or at least look at photographs online and (poor-quality) YouTube clips. If it’s at City Center next fall, I’ll be there for sure. Here’s an excerpt from a 1987 review that pretty much sums up how I feel about “In the Upper Room”:

In the Upper Room is a 40-minute unfolding of energy, of pulsating rhythm, of dance ideas. Not for one second does Tharp let the physical prowess of her dancers substitute for a complicated, dense dance vocabulary. Yet never is the sheer exuberance of motion beclouded by choreography. Nancy Goldner, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1987

Eric Underwood, Ethan Stiefel, and Isaac Stappas in “Room”

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5 Responses to Longing to be in the “Upper Room”

  1. Allison says:

    does this mean we’re on for philly in march?

  2. Evan says:

    Perhaps…but there’s also Boston in May.

  3. Allison says:

    ooh, i didn’t know about boston. so we do both. problem solved.

  4. Pingback: Tharp at ABT - Sneak Peek! « Dancing Perfectly Free

  5. Pingback: Coming Up Next… « Dancing Perfectly Free

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