One in this dance series presented under the umbrella of “Great Performances.” This edition features the work of choreographer Twyla Tharp performed by her frequent collaborator, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and members of American Ballet Theatre. Throughout the program host Baryshnikov explores an alphabetic catalog of ballet terms, demonstrating many of them with the help of the corps de ballet, but the focus is on particular dances by Tharp.
First is “The Little Ballet” set to music by Aleksandr Glazounov, in which Baryshnikov is featured solo as well as accompanied by Deirdre Carberry, Elaine Kudo, Amanda McKerrow, and Nancy Raffa.
Next, Baryshnikov and Kudo sport evening wear and dance in Tharp’s tribute, “Sinatra Suite,” to the tunes “Strangers in the Night,” “All the Way,” “That’s Life,” and “My Way,” followed by Baryshnikov’s solo turn in “One for My Baby.”
Following this, Baryshnikov gives a brief tribute to his former teacher Aleksandr Pushkin with a clip from Baryshnikov’s performance in 1968 with his ballet-school graduating class. He then describes Tharp’s choreography as classical with twits of invention and humor, as characterized in the following number, the whimsical “Push Comes to Shove.” This piece features the music of both Joseph Lamb and Franz Josef Haydn, and it displays the talents of Baryshnikov, Susan Jaffe, Robert La Fosse, and Cheryl Yeager.
Baryshnikov By Tharp was nominated for seven Emmy awards and won three, including outstanding achievements in both Directing and Choreography.