Charlotte occasionally gets world-class entertainment, and plenty of culture here is affordable for anyone who can get to it. But those two factors intersect as often as Bernie Sanders agrees with Donald Trump.
So the arrival of Twyla Tharp Dance for a Feb. 25 concert where almost every ticket costs $10 is cause for a grand jeté. And amazement, too: How did Charlotte luck into a megacheap concert with works by the Tony- and Emmy-winner, danced by her own company?
Seven words: Blumenthal Performing Arts and Carolinas HealthCare System.
The former has been finding ways to bring more affordable culture to Charlotte. (Remember the Dance Theatre of Harlem visit a year ago?) Tharp becomes the first event in an initiative dubbed “Blumenthal Celebrates.” BPA hopes to find underwriters for exceptional performances this year and offer special ticket pricing for them.
Carolinas HealthCare System, meanwhile, underwrote this show so thoroughly that more than 95 percent of the tickets cost a Hamilton. You can pay $20 for the best seats – still incredibly cheap – but all seating is general admission. Says BPA president Tom Gabbard, “We understand that ticket prices can be a barrier to attendance, and we hope this special pricing will allow everyone who is interested to enjoy this extraordinary performance.”
The ticket pays for more than 90 minutes of movement. Related activities include dance, fitness and healthy living exhibits in the Belk lobby at 6, followed by dance and fitness demonstrations there. A 6:30 pre-show chat takes place upstairs in Founders Hall at Booth Playhouse.
This isn’t BPA’s first brush with Tharp’s choreography: The national tours of “Movin’ Out” (based on the music of Billy Joel) and “Come Fly Away” (ditto for Frank Sinatra) played here. But her company has not, though audience surveys put it on a wish list back when the N.C. Performing Arts Center at Charlotte – as it was originally supposed to be called – went through initial fund-raising in 1989.
We’ll get one of Tharp’s respected new works and a generally acknowledged classic, each running about 45 minutes.
“Preludes and Fugues,” based on sections of J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” debuted in September 2015 in Dallas. (It was commissioned to honor the late Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.) Though Tharp has incorporated Sinatra’s music in her dances for more than 40 years, “Nine Sinatra Songs” stands out as her best-received work using Ol’ Blue Eyes.
The 2016-17 season has been a big one for Tharp, who turned 75 last year during the 50th-anniversary tour of her company. Now it’s a big one for Charlotte, too.
Twyla Tharp Dance
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 25.
Where: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.
Details: 704-372-1000 or blumenthalarts.org.