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ANDIEZ Her Soul Belongs to Music and Ballet Every Time She Dances She is Home Poster
Tharp was born in Portland, Indiana, and raised in Rialto, California. Her mother spent hours a day driving her back and forth to dance lessons. Tharp moved to New York City to attend Barnard College and joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company when she graduated, in 1963. But she found that she wanted to make experimental work of her own, with choreography that combined the fluidity of modern dance with the discipline of ballet. She gathered together a group of women, which she has called “a bunch of broads doing God’s work.” They danced wherever they could, often without formal venues or any music at all. Tharp married twice and briefly moved upstate to live with her second husband, with whom she had a son, in 1971. But, ultimately, she committed herself to New York, and to dance. Over Zoom one recent afternoon, from a home studio in her Upper West Side apartment, she spoke to me about her dogged work ethic, the status of dance in America, not falling in love with Baryshnikov, and what’s lost and gained by making art as you age. “American Masters: Twyla Moves,” which airs on March 26th, is “the low-hanging fruit on the tip of the iceberg, the beginner’s kit with me and my career,” she said. Then she paused, sighed, and added, “But that’s O.K. It’s better than nothing.” ANDIEZ Her Soul Belongs to Music and Ballet Every Time She Dances She is Home Poster
How quickly into quarantine did you start experimenting with virtual choreography?
Immediately. Quarantine started some horrible day in February, and I was working right away, because I work all the time.
Did you stop going to the gym?
My gym closed some while ago, my power-lifting gym. I do my own routine here, and I don’t do a heavy gym routine anymore. Do you know my dead-weight record? It’s two hundred and twenty-seven.
I know. I was working with a very serious weight trainer. It was in my early fifties, but it was double my weight. I was able to do it because I have very strong quads and so forth, and built the strength.
I read that your mother named you Twyla because she thought that it would look good on a marquee. Does that feel like something that was born into you, the idea that you had to be something, work hard to get somewhere?