Twyla Tharp's Vanguard Of New Dances In Brooklyn

Choreographer Twyla Tharp has been trying to sell her current dance season at the Brook- lyn Academy of Music (BAM) to those who don't follow dance.

One reason ``Red, White and Blues: New Works'' needs to be sold is that the same dances, plus narration by Tharp, are being presented 14 times. Fans probably will attend, but they won't be returning for two or three different programs, as often is the case in a dance troupe's two-week season.

Before the Jan. 16-28 season began, Tharp hit the TV circuit to hype her concert. She told talk-show hosts that dance energizes audiences, sending them back to their lives feeling physically stronger and mentally more optimistic.

Tharp is known to be articulate and witty. Her dances are considered interesting and her choice of movement styles and music remarkably eclectic.

Tharp is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her first dance concert, which was held in 1965 at Hunter College in New York City.

When the Brooklyn Academy offered her 14 dates, she chose not to offer several retrospective evenings. Always daring, she chose to present all new works and dance in some of them herself.

Tharp asked seven ballet dancers to join her - without pay - in Washington last summer. Using them, and thinking about things American, she choreographed some new ballets and modern dances.

The Kennedy Center provided rehearsal space in exchange for a few performances there. The same program is given here; dancers are now being paid.

The current program begins with ``Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms,'' danced to music recorded by Wynton Marsalis. Then Tharp does fascinating jazz dancing, backed by a line of four men, to three early Duke Ellington records. Everybody slouches amusingly in a doo-wop dance set to the Five Satins' ``In the Still of the Night.''

Tharp also explains how she invents a movement phrase and makes it look different. The dancers demonstrate. ``Circling Pigeons Waltz,'' as played by a Czech band in southwest Texas in 1918, is amusing as one dancer turns into a pigeon.

To Gluck's ``Don Juan,'' Tharp had men moving like egocentric twits, an amusing conceit that went on too long. Stacy Caddell seemed to control other dancers' fates - which included some melodramatic stabbings - in a dance to Bartok violin music. They also danced to the Drummers of Burundi and ended with ``The Battle Hymn of the Republic.''

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