Mark Von Burstel / TV Show
Neither epidemic nor age can stop legendary choreographer Twila Tharp from her work. During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, Tharp, now 79, choreographed multiple dances with Zoom. One of them was with four dancers – all of them were in a different time zone.
There was one dancer in New York at noon. There was one dancer in the West Coast before breakfast. There was one dancer in Denmark five hours ago, and there was one dancer in Saint Petersburg working during dinner hour. ” “There was nothing to stop us from forming a community. This is what dance can do – dance can give society.”
This isn’t the first time Tharp has run under unusual circumstances. In the 1960s, Tharp and her fellow dancers performed in parks, malls, and on subway platforms and rooftops. “If it was some level, it was a fair ground,” she says.
Tharp went to choreography for Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Joffrey Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the American Ballet Theater. You’ve also collaborated with David Byrne And the Billy Joel On Broadway.
Tharp is known for mixing ballet with other styles of dance: “I’ve always felt that a single dancer should be able to dance across the line,” she says. “This means: When I started working in New York, I was either a modern dancer, or I was a ballerina. I thought that was ridiculous, because I could be a modern ballerina and a modern dancer, so shouldn’t anyone else be able to do that?”
Tharp is a topic Twyla Moves, New PBS documentary, American Masters.
To start dancing as a toddler
She started with a musician training in piano, violin, and percussion, and the dance came after the fact. But on the other hand, my mother was a pianist, and as a very young kid, I would go to her classes. And so I was always wobbling and then I could crawl and then sort of jump. So I was always dancing to the music.
About what made her early design different from others
I think the first thing was to get rid of the idea of steps or methods – was to get to the basics of movement. And we were looking for very common, [ordinary] Common movement patterns. Normally, I mean I’m not very sophisticated in training that people might have, and then how that might extend and become more difficult for those of us who have benefited from this type of training. …
When I was in the beginning, I wanted to go back to the same mechanisms: either you start from the right or the left side. Either you coordinate facing the forward-moving leg or parallel with the forward-moving leg. Either move forward, backward, or sideways, side to side. All of these types of engineering questions really are [a] Kind of a launch point, because I didn’t want to take anything for granted I wanted to feel as though my fundamentals were intact.
James Niederlander / TV Show
To perform dance without music
Music is more comfortable for the general public than movement. I often say: take one move phrase and play happy music, [and] The audience thinks it’s a happy dance. Play the sad music and they will think it’s a sad dance, and the movement is exactly the same. So I wanted to try to figure out the emotional resonance of the movement. What triggered people? What is a provocation? What will they score? Not all that, but many visual questions have been asked. This was not possible with the music, because the music is so overwhelming.
On why she wanted to start a women-only dance company in 1966
I think we knew there was a bias in the art world across paintings, be it music, painting, sculpture or literature [or] Dance. And we wanted to strengthen ourselves in a way that we could put forth what we thought was our strongest suit. And our strongest suit was a lot of technology and a lot of amazing teamwork, but also strong individual voices. … we all had individual characteristics, and that was more evident if we were all women, and then if there was a man in the group, we would have Were women [and] He was going to be … the man, and that was going to be the defining and defining characteristic rather than the individual traits of every human being.
About wanting dancers with different body types in her company
To be comprehensive, you need to have a highlight. So by having [different dancers who are] Long, short, classically trained, [without] Classic training [a] Great athlete – all of these different qualities will redefine the work and give the 3D quality to the work that is clearly missing if there is a distinct body type throughout the group. One understands this need [for] Replaceable in professional companies because if a dancer goes out, they want to be able to put on another one as directly and effectively as possible and hopefully in the same outfit. It’s all the bottom line, right? For me, that wasn’t what dancing was all about and still is.
On choreography for men who don’t want a woman to be taught
I am very strong sweater. She has jumped higher and taller than most men. So it was like, “Well, guys, let’s go.” This is how I have always been able to work with men: with strength and some kind of challenge. … but, you know, guys can be very arrogant – we can all. If they had the opportunity to overcome this prejudice, many of them would, with gratitude. I mean, you’ll see some male dancers in it Demon Coupe … they were doing kind of extraordinary things. I think they were happy that they were asked to work in a different way, in the end. It probably took a little work. … a couple didn’t come, but that’s okay.
On what her body can do at the age of 79
In the past year, with the spread of the epidemic and its disturbances in terms of routine, discipline and normal daily activities, the body does not know itself at the moment. So I can’t tell you what I can ask him to do until I re-familiarize myself. I am in the process of doing this. … when I’m done with one of these big projects I’m out of fit, that’s just a given. I’ve been in this position before, not at this age, but I know it’s a commitment to getting back in shape. It won’t happen on its own.
Lauren Krenzel and Seth Kelly produced this interview and edited it for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper, and Beth Novey have adapted it for the web.