Stephanie Williams, Cory Stearns, Catherine Hurlin and Duncan Lyle rehearsing In the Upper Room. PC Kelsey Grills

The Adrenaline Rush of Twyla Tharp's Upper Room Is Coming Back to ABT

Waves of sheer dance inventiveness come rolling toward you. Dancers in sneakers, pointe shoes or ballet slippers mingle: it looks like a free-for-all but is carefully plotted out. Philip Glass' music lets the dancers ride his gorgeous momentum.

This is In the Upper Room, the celestial yet kinetically charged ballet made by Twyla Tharp in 1986. It hasn't been done by American Ballet Theatre since 2012 and now it's coming back with full force.


What the dancers do is almost superhuman: They run backwards, they skip, they undulate, they help each other fly in the most unlikely ways. The intertwined shapes are bold, the interactions are witty, and the energy is non-stop.

The rehearsal that we observed, run by former Tharp star Shelley Washington, was the second cast of the stompers: Catherine Hurlin, Stephanie Williams, Alexandra Basmagy, Brittany DeGrofft, Calvin Royal III, Cory Stearns and Duncan Lyle danced fabulously. It was thrilling to see this masterpiece up close.

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Photo by Ema Peter, Courtesy University of Southern California, Glorya Kaufman School of Dance

More Than Just a Studio

There's a special connection between dancers and the studios where they spend countless hours—even years—developing their craft. That's why colleges that want to attract and nurture the very best talent invest in the very best resources—like top-quality flooring from a trusted manufacturer like Harlequin—to inspire and support their students both mentally and physically.

Check out these college dance studios—and their sweeping views, eye-catching design, and industry-leading Harlequin floors—that are soon to become a home away from home to the class of 2025.

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July 2021