Tharp, Twyla

Tharp, Twyla

(twī`lə), 1941–, American dancer and choreographer, b. Portland, Ind. An eclectic, innovative choreographer and dancer, she danced (1963–65) with Paul TaylorTaylor, Paul,
1930–, American modern-dance choreographer, b. Pittsburgh. Taylor trained as an artist before he received scholarships to study dance. In 1953 he made his debut with the Merce Cunningham company and performed his first dance composition.
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. For more than 20 years she had her own dance companies (1967–85, 1986–88), but in 1988 she joined the American Ballet TheatreAmerican Ballet Theatre
(ABT), one of the foremost international dance companies of the 20th and 21st cents. It was founded in 1937 as the Mordkin Ballet and reorganized as the Ballet Theatre in 1940 under the direction (1940–80) of Lucia Chase and Oliver Smith.
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 (ABT) as an artistic associate and until 1991 was one of the company's two resident choreographers. After leaving ABT she produced two pick-up troupes, including a 1992–93 tour starring herself and Mikhail BaryshnikovBaryshnikov, Mikhail
, 1948–, Russian-American dancer and choreographer, b. Riga, Latvia (then in the USSR). He studied in Riga and performed with the Kirov Ballet (1966–74).
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. She later established relationships with two regional troupes and rejoined (1995) ABT as a choreographer. In 2000 she again launched a company of her own, Twyla Tharp Dance.

Her impudent, loose-limbed, and immensely popular choreography, which combines elements from ballet, jazz, and modern dance, is characterized by high energy and meticulous discipline despite its pop-culture effects. Her works include Deuce Coupe (1973), Push Comes to Shove (1975), Baker's Dozen (1979), When We Were Very Young (1980), Nine Sinatra Songs (1982), In the Upper Room (1986), and The Beethoven Seventh (2000). Tharp also has choreographed for stage and film musicals, and conceived, directed, and choreographed the two-act Broadway ballet Movin' Out (2002), set to songs by Billy Joel. She also choreographed the much less successful The Times They Are a-Changin' (2006), based on Bob DylanDylan, Bob
, 1941–, American singer and composer, b. Duluth, Minn., as Robert Zimmerman. Dylan learned guitar at the age of 10 and autoharp and harmonica at 15. After a rebellious youth, he moved to New York City in 1960 and in the early years of the decade began playing
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 songs, and the alternately praised and panned dance musical Come Fly Away (2010), set to songs by Frank SinatraSinatra, Frank
(Francis Albert Sinatra), 1915–98, American singer and actor, b. Hoboken, N.J. During the late 1930s and early 40s he sang with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands, causing teenage girls to shriek and swoon over his romantic, seemingly casual renditions
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.

Bibliography

See her autobiography, Push Comes to Shove (1992); M. B. Siegel, Howling near Heaven: Twyla Therp and the Reinvention of Modern Dance (2006).

Tharp, Twyla

(1941–  ) choreographer, modern dancer; born in Portland, Ind. Trained in ballet and modern dance, she performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company (1963–65) before forming her own company. Her early abstract works such as Push Comes to Shove (1975), and dances for the movies Hair (1979) and White Knights (1985), have evolved into more popular works for ballet companies. After disbanding her company in 1987, she worked as artistic associate for the American Ballet Theatre for two years, subsequently choreographing pieces for other leading ballet companies. In 1992 she performed her pieces with a "pickup" troupe of outstanding dancers, assembled for a two-week engagement in New York City, and published her autobiography, Push Comes to Shove.