Colorado Ballet

In The Upper Room

In The Upper Room

Choreographer: Twyla Tharp, staged by S. Washington
Composer: Philip Glass
Years performed: 2008

World premiere: August 28, 1986
Premiere company: Twyla Tharp Dance
Premiere location: Murray Theatre at Ravinia, Highland Park, IL
Composer: Philip Glass
Costume designer: Norma Kamali
Lighting designer: Jennifer Tipton

About In the Upper Room (courtesy of Twyla Tharp's website):

Following a grueling year of touring, Tharp's company took a year long haitus, reassembling in May 1986. The first new piece they performed was In The Upper Room. 

Tharp commissioned composer Philip Glass to create a new score.  "The music hints at things, but I tried to leave a lot of space for the dance to happen,” states Glass, “In that way the dancers complete it, fill it in." The choreography fuses a broad spectrum of movement into one vigorous vocabulary; boxing, tap dance, yoga, ballet and full-out sprinting are intertwined. The dancers must push through the difficult steps, intricate timing and aerobic demands of the choreography.

The dancers appear and disappear through fog and lights designed by Jennifer Tipton. The costumes by Norma Kamali begin as black and white striped jumpsuits. As the piece progresses, the dancers shed layers of clothing, revealing bright red under-layers and sweaty skin.  

In The Upper Room synthesizes choreography, costumes, music and lighting into a transcendent experience for both audience and performers. It has become a central piece in the repertories of dance companies worldwide.


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