Brief Fling


Brief Fling is Mikhail Baryshnikov’s last commission from Tharp during his tenure as artistic director of American Ballet Theatre. The title references both the traditional Scottish dance and a short-lived romance. Isaac Mizrahi's tartan costumes divide the dancers into clans of blue, red, green and off-white.

In the opening section, two soloist couples in red and a quartet in green punch out syncopated phrases to a military tattoo. The principal couple clad in blue performs an extended set of variations to an English folk song backed by the ensemble dancers dressed in off-white. The finale features each clan in succession, compounding into a furioso fugue. 

The score by Michel Colombier intersperses Percy Grainger’s sunny interpretations of traditional melodies from the United Kingdom with an ominous electronic score. 


  • Padovani and Wallace in performance. ©Marty Sohl
  • Members of the ensemble in performance. ©Marty Sohl
  • Brief Fling
    Costume sketches by Isaac Mizrahi. ©Isaac Mizrahi


Opening sections performed by dancers of American Ballet Theatre.
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Music Program:

Original Score by Michel Colombier

Country Gardens (Traditional)
Arranged For Piano by Percy Grainger - 1918

Handel In The Strand
Arranged by Michel Colombier
Composed by Percy Grainger 1911-1947

Audio Sample: 

Country Gardens

Performance History

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, CA
February 28, 1990

Premiere performance

March 17, 1990

Works on this program: Brief Fling, In The Upper Room

Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY
May 8, 1990

Additional performances during ABT's two-month season at the Metropolitan Opera House

January 15, 1991

Additional performances during ABT's two-week season at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Civic Opera House, Chicago, IL
February 5, 1991

Additional performances on February 6 & 7, 1991

Palais Garnier, Paris, France
July 4, 1991

Additional performances on July 7, 10 & 13, 1991 

The Wang Center, Boston, MA
March 12, 1992
The National Theatre, Münich, Germany
May 14, 1994

Additional performance on May 15, 1994

New York City Center, New York, NY
October 28, 2008

Additional performances on October 29 - November 2, 2008

February 17, 2009

Additional performances on February 18 & 19, 2009

McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA
September 27, 2013

Additional performances on September 28 & October 3-6, 2013
Works on this program: Brief FlingWaiting at the Station (premiere), Nine Sinatra Songs

McCaw Hall, Seattle, WA
November 4, 2016
Additional performances run from November 4-13.