From the article: The Washington Ballet stretched itself like never before in Thursday's program at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, and although the results were not all first-rate, it was good to see the company aim so high.
Following up on its moderately successful production last year of Twyla Tharp's "Nine Sinatra Songs," the troupe shone in Tharp's "In the Upper Room," the hit of the evening. This late 20th-century classic, in which ballet technique and Tharp's brand of casual, jazz-inflected modern dance masterfully coexist, made an especially strong statement at the close of what had already been an intensely challenging program. It opened with Jerome Robbins's sophisticated "In the Night," and also included an energetic premiere by Artistic Director Septime Webre.
Legend has it that Tharp named her 1986 opus for a Mahalia Jackson recording that refers to the upper room where Jesus and his disciples gathered for the Last Supper. In Tharp's view, a dance floor is a similarly exalted space. Her place of reverence is a wide-open stage, with ballerinas in flippy skirts and pointe shoes sharing the spotlight with other dancers in trousers and sneakers. The effect is not ironic, but harmonious. One style complements the other, borrows bits of the other, incorporates them and translates them into something else, back and forth until -- voilà -- there's something wholly, vibrantly new onstage.