Twyla Tharp’s “Nine Sinatra Songs” – A brief history.


Dancers of Birmingham Royal Ballet photo by Bill Cooper

Written by Robyn Jutsum

We are already halfway through October, but that means we still have a few weeks of dancing through our Cardio Ballet combos inspired by Twyla Tharp’s
Nine Sinatra Songs! Be sure to join us on Sunday, October 17th for Sips & Clips, where we’ll watch clips from the ballet and discuss the ballet in more detail. Learn more here.

A popular piece to find in many companies’ repertoires to this day, Nine Sinatra Songs premiered on October 15th in 1982 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. With costumes by THE Oscar de la Renta and lighting by Jennifer Tipton, the ballet is swoon-worthy from Sinatra’s crooning to the sultry, jazzy moves.


Dancers of PBT courtesy of Pittburgh Balle Theatre


Promotional Photo of Twyla Tharp’s Dancers courtesy of Richard Avedon Foundation


Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Yasuo Atsuji photo by Bill Cooper

There are 14 dancers, paired off into 7 couples, and the total running time is 28 minutes and 20 seconds. Tharp created this piece, inspired by her pas de deux Once More Frank, selecting songs from the 1950s and 1960s specifically because she reasoned, “It was the last time we assumed as a culture that of course men and women lived together and loved for a lifetime.”

Tharp further explored the intricacies of ballroom and social dancing, in the wake of her work for Ragtime (1981), to inspire the movement quality and partnering between each couple.

The entire arc of Nine Sinatra Songs follows the ups and downs of romance and relationships, divided amongst the songs and couples, before gathering as a full cast in the last number, danced to “My Way.”
You’ll find a range of seductive choreography from tango to waltz and a physical representation of the rollercoaster of emotions when it comes to relationships and love.

Listen to Twyla Tharp in conversation with Miami City Ballet’s Lourdes Lopez about the ballet:

In Cardio Ballet, expect to see movements inspired by each number in the ballet, from jazzy hips to high kicks to sultry adagio and more! Sign up for your next class here.

For Your Listening Pleasure…The Nine Sinatra Songs Playlist:

“Softly As I Leave You”
“Strangers in the Night”
“One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)”
“My Way”
“Somethin’ Stupid”
“All the Way”
“Forget Domani”
“That’s Life”
“My Way” (reprise)


Dancers of Kansas City Ballet photo by Steve Wilson

Interested in upcoming themes? Follow us on Instagram and TikTok @theballetspot AND get your swan wings ready to fly for November’s theme, Swan Lake!

We’ll kick off the first weekend of November with a special “Secrets of Swan Lake” Virtual Ballet Class with ABT’s Skylar Brandt on Sunday, November 7th at 4:30 pm ET! Join Skylar for an hour-long Swan Lake ballet class on Zoom as part of our *Stars of Ballet* Series. This class will be LIVE STREAM ONLY (will not be recorded), so be sure to save the date and mark your calendars now for this exciting event! Sign up and save your spot at the barre here.


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