Since founding her first dance company in 1965, Twyla Tharp has bucked the trends, easily transitioning from ballet choreographer to modern-dance maven to Broadway staple without ever losing her edge, or her street cred. This Monday, November 14, at 8 p.m., Tharp’s most recent collaboration with the music of Frank Sinatra, Come Fly Away, takes to the stage at the Granada Theatre. As many know, Tharp’s creative love affair with Sinatra goes back many decades; she first choreographed to his music in 1976 when she premiered Once More Frank, a duet for the American Ballet Theatre. The union saw its climax when Sinatra himself requested Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, featuring American Ballet Theatre star Mikhail Baryshnikov, be performed at his Kennedy Center Honors award ceremony in 1983.
While Come Fly Away has been making the rounds since 2009, Monday marks the show’s first stop in Santa Barbara. Below, you’ll find a handful of reasons to check it out. For tickets and information, call (805) 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org.
1. The Dancers: Come Fly Away features a rotating cast of 14 of the world’s top dancers. More importantly, though, is the cast’s multipronged approach to the material. In true Tharp fashion, the show is as much a celebration of ballroom couples dance as it is an expression of her formal work; the show is filled with lifts and transitions that pull heavily from her lengthy ballet and modern-dance repertoire.
2. The Live Band: The loose story arc here involves four couples challenging each other on the nightclub dance floor, and they’re egged on by Come Fly Away‘s impressive live band (along with Sinatra’s prerecorded vocals). According to a recent L.A. Times review, the outfit is nothing short of “sensational” at bringing Sinatra’s classics to life.
3. The History: Tharp’s résumé reads like a history lesson in modern dance, and her role as choreographer during the past decade has shown no signs of slowing down. In 2002, she premiered the award-winning Movin’ Out, set to the music of Billy Joel. And in 2006 she took on The Times They Are A-Changin’, which paired Tharp’s movements with the songs of legendary troubadour Bob Dylan.
4. Just Frank: Whether or not you’re a fan of dance, Come Fly Away has something to offer, not the least of which is Sinatra’s vocal accompaniment to the whole affair. Expect hits like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” and “That’s Life,” all brought to life and paired to footwork in a way that would no doubt make Ol’ Blue Eyes proud.