A Word With Twyla Tharp


Manhattanville College had the pleasure of sitting down with dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp, during a Castle Conversations event.

A majority of questions from the audience consisted of recurring themes of feminism, work, receiving credit for your work, and offered advice for students’ career development. What’s the big secret to success? Twyla Tharp can tell you in just one word.

“Work!” Tharp explained. “And I don’t mean that to be sarcastic. But it is a privilege to work. The only way to know that you’re good at something is to just do it.”

Gaining hands-on experience is one of the best ways of to decide your desired practice and master it. Internships are encouraged to college students for a reason. And, in terms of receiving credit or rewards for your work, Tharp feels strongly about self-satisfaction and self-acknowledgement of your own accomplishments.

“Listen– I don’t care about prizes,” Tharp said.

In 2004, the Vietnam Veterans of America honored Twyla for her artistic accomplishments in creativity, specifically for her Broadway musical “Movin’ Out.” This musical performance deals with the legacy of the Vietnam War. In addition to Tharp’s trip to Nashville to accept the award and give a talk, a number of  Veterans came to the performance on Broadway.

“Their presence was my biggest honor,” said Tharp.

Audience members were left to wonder what motivates Tharp, at seventy- ve years old, to continue dancing and choreographing.

“No choice. It’s what I do. It’s what I know,” said Tharp. “It’s like asking why you get out of bed in the morning. Dance is just what I do.”