Magazine article Dance Teacher

Twyla Tharp B. 1941

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Twyla Tharp B. 1941

Article excerpt

As one of the most prolific and acclaimed choreographers of the past five decades, Twyla Tharp pioneered the blending of ballet and modern dance. Constantly challenging herself to innovate, she developed a unique style that fuses the technical, theatrical, social and pedestrian. Her use of popular music-The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Randy Newman-offered concert dance a new accessibility.

Tharp grew up in Rialto, California, and moved to New York City to study at Barnard College. She danced with Paul Taylor's company for two years, leaving in 1965 to found her own troupe, Twyla Tharp Dance.

Her Eight Jelly Rolls in 1971 was a career turning point Danced to the ragtime of Jelly Roll Morton, it was highly inventive, quirky, jazzy and a mix of dance styles, with movement as dense as the music itself-all of which became hallmarks of her choreography.

The '70s and '80s were particularly busy for Tharp. She choreographed memorable works like Baker's Dozen (1979), The Catherine Wheel (1981, with a score by David Byrne) and Nine Sinatra Songs (1982), and films including Hair (1979) and White Nights (1985, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines).

Her company made history in 1988 by merging with American Ballet Theatre (then under Baryshnikov's direction). Though Tharp eventually re-formed her own company, she would go on to create 16 more works for ABT.

Now 76, she continues to be one of the most productive dancemakers of the 21st century. This month, The Royal Ballet premieres the expanded version of her lovely and subtle ballet As Time Goes By (1973). DT

The Work Tharp is known for revamping her approach with each new project, and her gift for movement invention is legendary.

* Deuce Coupe (1973): When Joffrey Ballet artistic director Robert Joffrey invited Tharp to set a new work on his company, she made an unprecedented decision to have her six company members dance with 14 of the Joffrey dancers. …

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