Since graduating from Barnard College in 1963, Ms. Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President's Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In 1965, Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. Her dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. By combining different forms of movement – such as jazz, ballet, boxing and inventions of her own making – Ms. Tharp’s work expands the boundaries of ballet and modern dance.
In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has created dances for The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Today, ballet and dance companies around the world continue to perform Ms. Tharp’s works.
Ms. Tharp's work first appeared on Broadway in 1980 with WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, followed by her collaboration with musician David Byrne on THE CATHERINE WHEEL and later by SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. In 2002, Ms. Tharp’s dance musical MOVIN' OUT, set to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel. Ms. Tharp later worked with Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics in THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ and COME FLY AWAY, set to songs sung by Frank Sinatra.
In film, Ms. Tharp has collaborated with director Milos Forman on HAIR, RAGTIME and AMADEUS. She has also worked with Taylor Hackford on WHITE NIGHTS and James Brooks on I'LL DO ANYTHING.
Her television credits include choreographing SUE'S LEG for the inaugural episode of PBS' DANCE IN AMERICA IN 1976, co-producing and directing MAKING TELEVISION DANCE, and directing THE CATHERINE WHEEL for BBC Television. Ms. Tharp co-directed the television special BARYSHNIKOV BY THARP.
In 1992, Ms. Tharp published her autobiography PUSH COMES TO SHOVE. She went on to write THE CREATIVE HABIT: Learn it and Use it for Life, followed by THE COLLABORATIVE HABIT: Life Lessons for Working Together. She is currently working on a fourth book.
Today, Ms. Tharp continues to create.