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Twyla  Tharp

Twyla Tharp

Choreographer & Creativity Cultivator


Since her graduation from Barnard College in 1963, Twyla Tharp has created more than 130 dances, choreographed five Hollywood movies, and directed and choreographed two Broadway shows.  She has written an autobiography and received two Emmy Awards, 18 honorary doctorates and numerous grants including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.  Her self-help book on the habits of highly creative people, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, was recently released. Read More >

In 1965 Tharp began assembling Twyla Tharp Dance, 23 years later Twyla Tharp Dance merged with American Ballet Theatre, where she created more than a dozen works.  Since that time she has choreographed dances for many companies including: the Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance and The Martha Graham Dance Company.  Among her better known dances are: Eight Jelly Rolls, to the music of Jelly Roll Morton; Push Comes to Shove, widely known as a vehicle for Mikhail Baryshnikov, and three major works to music by Beethoven – Diabelli Variations, Hammerklavier and The Seventh Symphony.  In 1999, Tharp regrouped her company, and it has been touring internationally to critical acclaim. 

In film, Tharp has collaborated with directors Milos Forman on Hair, Ragtime, and Amadeus; with Taylor Hackford on White Nights; and with James Brooks on I'll Do Anything.  Her television credits include choreographing Sue's Leg for the inaugural episode of PBS' Dance in America, and directing The Catherine Wheel for BBC Television.  Tharp co-directed the television special Baryshnikov by Tharp, which won two Emmy Awards as well as the Director's Guild of America Award for Outstanding Director Achievement.

In 1992, Tharp published her autobiography Push Comes to Shove.  In her latest book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life, Tharp shares what she has learned about creativity and how those lessons apply to anyone with creative impulses, including business people and parents. 

In 1993 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1997 she was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Tharp received a 2003 Tony Award for her collaboration with Billy Joel on the current Broadway hit, "Movin’ Out," which she conceived, directed and choreographed.  In addition, her choreography for the show was recognized with every honor available to a Broadway show including the Astaire Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League, and Drama Desk Awards. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

The Creative Habit

The Better You