Twyla Tharp at PNB

Twyla Tharp is extraordinary. Take one look at her bio and you can see it immediately. But Twyla’s iconic status goes beyond her mountains of awards, medals, prizes, fellowships, honorary degrees, and three books. The sum of her ongoing legacy is more than her over 160 choreographed works including 129 dances, six films, four full-length ballets, twelve television specials, four Broadway shows, and the two figure skating routines she’s created since the founding of her original company, Twyla Tharp Dance, in 1965. Though her works are varied in medium, Twyla revisits a common theme. “It’s about absolute inclusiveness, it’s about individuality,” Twyla says. “There are passages in all these pieces about the individual as well as how the community holds them together and supports them.”

The ballet needs to tell its own story in such a way it can be received without having to be translated into language.

Twyla Tharp
This image released by PBS shows choreographer Twyla Tharp instructing at Pacific Northwest Ballet in a scene from the documentary, “American Masters: Twyla Moves,” premiering on March 26. (Marc von Borstel/PBS via AP)

At PNB, we have enjoyed Twyla’s dynamic presence in the studios over and over again including the works she has staged here and the three new ballets she’s created for us: Afternoon Ball, Opus 111, and the work she created in 2013 as PNB’s inaugural Artist-in-Residence, Waiting at the Station.

She’s just a breath of fresh air in the studio. I mean, she’s been in the business so long and she just has this way of running a studio. She treats dancers with a lot of respect, but has HUGE expectations for us. She makes us better dancers.

PNB Company dancer Sarah Pasch on working with Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp Works in PNB’s Repertory

Nine Sinatra Songs
Premiere: October 14, 1982; Twyla Tharp Dance (Vancouver, British Colombia)
PNB Premiere: February 2, 2006

In the Upper Room
Premiere: August 28, 1986; Twyla Tharp Dance (Highland Park, Illinois)
PNB Premiere: November 1, 2007

Brief Fling
Premiere: February 28, 1990; American Ballet Theatre (San Francisco, California)
PNB Premiere: September 27, 2013

Waterbaby Bagatelles
Premiere: April 30, 1994; Boston Ballet (Boston, Massachusetts)
PNB Premiere: November 2, 2006

Sweet Fields
Premiere: September 20, 1996; Tharp! (Berkeley, California)
PNB Premiere: June 3, 2022

Afternoon Ball
Premiere: September 25, 2008; Pacific Northwest Ballet

Opus 111
Premiere: September 25, 2008; Pacific Northwest Ballet

Waiting at the Station
Premiere: September 27, 2013; Pacific Northwest Ballet


Featured photo: Twyla Tharp in rehearsal for Waiting at the Station with PNB dancers Elle Macy, Chelsea Adomaitis, and Sarah Pasch, photo © Lindsay Thomas.

Photos: Twyla Tharp in the PNB studios, photo © Marc von Borstel. Lindsi Dec and Batkhurel Bold in Nine Sinatra Songs, photo © Angela Sterling. PNB Company dancers in Brief Fling, photo © Angela Sterling.

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