How Near Heaven


How Near Heaven was Tharp’s first commission for American Ballet Theatre under the leadership of artistic director Kevin McKenzie. The ballet featured three of the company’s principal ballerinas: Kathleen Moore, Paloma Herrera, in one of her first roles as principal, and Cynthia Harvey, who would retire the following year.

The two young ballerinas (Herrera was only 19 at the time) mirror each other through folk and social dance sequences. Quick steps and explosive jumps characterize their phrases. They are mythological twins – representations of duality and the constancy of change.      

The third ballerina is measured and controlled. She is often partnered in high, sustained lifts, elevating her above the action onstage. Poised and mature, she personifies unification.


  • How Near Heaven
    Members of the ensemble in performance. ©Richard Greenhouse
  • How Near Heaven
    Harvey (lifted) with members of American Ballet Theatre. ©Jack Vartoogian


Dancers of American Ballet Theatre in a 1996 restaging.
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Music Program:

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge for String Orchestra, Op. 10
Composed by Benjamin Britten - 1937

Variation 1: Adagio
Variation 2: March
Variation 3: Romance
Variation 4: Aria Italiana
Variation 5: Bourrée classique
Variation 6: Wiener Waltzer
Variation 7: Moto perpetuo
Variation 8: Funeral March
Variation 9: Chant
Variation 10: Fugue and Finale

Audio Sample: 

Variation 3: Romance
Composed by Benjamin Britten

Performance History

March 3, 1995

Premiere performance
Additional performances on March 4 & 5, 1995

Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY
May 1, 1995

Additional performances during the Spring 1995 season
Works on this program: Americans We (premiere), How Near Heaven, Jump Start (premiere)

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