The Elements


The Elements follows the progression from chaos to order enacted by Rebel’s Baroque score. In the opening section, classical vocabulary clashes with disparate movement styles. The dancers move through the rapid succession of steps with uninhibited quickness. Flashing lights and the dissonant music add to the primal energy onstage.

As the ballet develops, Tharp untangles the knot of movement presented in the opening sections. The elements are distilled in turn until the final section, when they are reassembled in rational, Newtonian harmony. 


  • The Elements
    Butler and Roberts in performance. ©Paul Kolnik


Dancers of American Ballet Theatre in rehearsal.
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Music Program:

Les Élémens
Composed by Jean-Féry Rebel - 1747

I. Le cahos
II. Loure I: La terre et l'eau
III. Chaconne: Le feu
IV. Ramage: L'air
V. Rossignols
VI. Loure II
VII. Tambourins I & II
VIII. Sicilienne
IX. Rondeau: Air pour l'Amour
X. Caprice

Performance History

Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY
May 3, 1996

Additional performance on May 4, 1996
Works on this program: The Elements (premiere), How Near Heaven, Americans We

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
June 26, 1996
September 3, 1997

Additional performances on September 4 & 5, 1997