Twyla Tharp, one of the most iconic dancemakers of our time, has collaborated with all of the greatest ballet companies in the world – including PNB.
We’re bringing Tharp’s Brief Fling back to McCaw Hall this November. Read on to learn more about the fabulously fascinating choreographer behind this masterpiece.
She was born in Indiana, where her mother would teach her piano, dance, speech, and writing for over 15 hours every day.
She was named after Twila Thornburg, the Pig Princess at the 89th annual Muncie Fair, but her mother thought “Twyla” would look better than “Twila” on a marquee.
Tharp started her own dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance, after graduating from Barnard College. In 1988, Twyla Tharp Dance merged with American Ballet Theatre.
She became a dancer in part because she knew women could be pioneers in the field. “I thought, ‘Well here’s an even playing field – dance,” she says. “It was a very rational choice.”
Tharp has choreographed 129 dances and ballets, 12 TV specials, six movies, four Broadway shows, and two figure skating routines.
Her (intimidating) list of accolades includes a Tony Award, two Emmys, 19 honorary doctorates, the National Medal of the Arts, a Kennedy Center honor, and the MacArthur “Genius” fellowship.
Now 75 years old, Twyla always strives for more. “I had always seen myself as a star,” she says. “I wanted to be a galaxy.”
She was our very first Artist in Residence in 2013, when she created Waiting At The Station.
Tharp has created three ballets for PNB, including Afternoon Ball, Opus 111, and Waiting at the Station. Additionally, she has staged four ballets with us: Brief Fling, In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs, and Waterbaby Bagatelles.
Though she has three books under her belt, Tharp says she prefers to communicate without words: “The ballet needs to tell its own story in such a way it can be received without having to be translated into language.”