Twyla Tharp

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Twyla Tharp (born July 1, 1941) is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.



Early years

Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.

Tharp's family—younger sister Twanette, twin brothers Stanley and Stanford, mother Lecile and father William—moved to Rialto, California, in 1951.[1] Her parents opened a drive-in movie theater, where Tharp worked from the time she was 8 years old. The drive-in was on the corner of Acacia and Foothill, the major east–west artery in Rialto and the path of Route 66.[2] She attended Pacific High School in San Bernardino and studied at the Vera Lynn School of Dance. Tharp, a "devoted bookworm,"[3] admits that this schedule left little time for a social life.[4] Tharp attended Pomona College in California but later transferred to Barnard College in New York City, where she graduated with a degree in Art History in 1963. It was in New York that she studied with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. In 1963 Tharp joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Dances and ballets

In 1965, she formed her own company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her work often utilizes classical music, jazz and contemporary pop music. From 1971 to 1988, Twyla Tharp Dance performed original works around the world.

In 1973, Tharp choreographed Deuce Coupe to the music of The Beach Boys for the Joffrey Ballet. Deuce Coupe is considered to be the first crossover ballet. Later she choreographed Push Comes To Shove (1976), which featured Mikhail Baryshnikov and is now thought to be the best example of the crossover ballet.

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