Dance: Adding Some Sizzle at A.B.T.

Twyla Tharp's new ballet highlights a strong season

When the curtain goes up on Once Upon a Time, Twyla Tharp's new dance for American Ballet Theater, Mikhail Baryshnikov is alone onstage. He is elegantly dressed in pleated, '30s-style trousers, the kind that Cary Grant or Katharine Hepburn used to wear in the movies. This attractive, provocative first glance recalls Tharp's triumphant Push Comes to Shove (1976); that ballet began with Baryshnikov's sidling out in a vaguely Slavic tunic and a sassy bowler hat. No doubt about it, Tharp understands this Russian-American firebird better than...

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