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Friday, February 24, 2012

"Twyla Tharp: All American" at Kennedy Center Wednesday, Feb. 22

Think of the Washington Ballet’s February program as pure hell for the company’s men but a heavenly gift for any D.C. guy in the dog house for botching Valentine’s Day. Lucky be the lady who gets treated to an evening of ballet and Sinatra. Also lucky: local fans of choreographer Twyla Tharp. “Nine Sinatra Songs” headlines the Kennedy Center run, but the troupe’s first all-Tharp program also includes a reprise of “Push Comes to Shove” and the company premiere of “Surfer at the Styx.” To prepare for “Sinatra Songs,” the ladies need to spend some serious time primping—costumes are by Oscar de la Renta—and the guys need to hit the gym. Tharp’s choreography takes “Fly Me to the Moon” literally. Well, not Newt Gingrich-literally, but the piece is all about men lifting the ladies aloft. Male footwork is more important in “Push Comes to Shove,” a piece Tharp created in 1976 for a recently defected Mikhail Baryshnikov. “I wanted a literal, athletic heroism from him, capitalizing on his unsurpassed virtuosity in the male domain of ballet,” the choreographer wrote in her autobiography named after the piece. So are Jonathan Jordan, Jared Nelson, and the rest of the company’s men ready for some serious lifting? Grab a dance partner and find out.

“Twyla Tharp: All American” opens tonight at 8 p.m. and continues through Sunday at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $20–$125. kennedy-center.org. (202) 467-4600.

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