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Twyla Tharp

  • Dancing is like bank robbery. It takes split-second timing.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Ms. ()
  • You can keep on chewing gum for ten hours, but after about a minute and a half you've got all the good out of it.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Barbara McDowell and Hana Umlauf, Woman's Almanac ()
  • Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

  • The art of these Fifties movies was in sustaining forever the moment before sex.

  • ... dancers are allowed, indeed encouraged, to remain children forever ...

  • ... if you want to create art, you'd best have a deep belief in yourself and no ulterior motives.

  • Living had little use for me other than how it could be funneled into dance.

  • One clear difference between art and commercial work is that commercial work is exploitive: the work may be high quality but the intention is to sell product or tickets. Art exists with or without ticket sales.

  • My greatest fear in working is always the end. Lately I have taken to tricking myself into finishing by leaving a hole in the middle somewhere, then stitching the two pieces together — the Union Pacific approach.

  • ... I had received my first establishment grants in response to applications filed the year before. To the pages of baffling forms I had simply attached a handwritten note saying, 'I make dances, not applications. Send the money. Love, Twyla.'

  • Dance is the stepchild of the arts.

  • I think of music as fuel, its spectrum of energy governed by tempi, volume, and heart.

  • ... when dancing is right, the movement possesss a logic common to us all, an inevitability that takes it beyond the personal and egocentric and makes of it classical art.

  • I have always felt one of the things dance should do — its business being so clearly physical — is challenge the culture's gender stereotypes.

  • ... dance is simply the refinement of human movement — walking, running, and jumping. We are all experts. There should be no art form more accessible than dance, yet no art is more mystifying in the public imagination.

  • ... when the time came I would do battle with my mother for the right to sit at the center of my own life.

  • There are so few people who can really take hold of art and sort of eat and chew it up. Somehow it's got to be held special, sacred in a corner, and if you don't do the same thing with it, if you're not equally reverential, serious, and pompous about it, well, then you're not a great artist. Who needs that?

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Kristen Golden and Barbara Findlen, Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century ()
  • Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • There's a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and reptition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Alone is a fact, a condition where no one else is around. Lonely is how you feel about that.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • I've always thought my creative life began the moment my mother named me Twyla.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • In creative endeavors luck is a skill.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • Generosity is luck going in the opposite direction, away from you. If you're generous to someone, if you do something to help him out, you are in effect making him lucky. This is important. It's like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Twyla Tharp with Mark Reiter, The Creative Habit ()
  • I repeat the wake-up, the workout, the quick shower, the breakfast of three hard-boiled egg whites and a cup of coffee, the hour to make my morning calls and deal with correspondence, the two hours of stretching and working out ideas by myself in the studio ... That's my day, every day. A dancer's life is all about repetition.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Mason Currey, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work ()
  • When it all comes together, a creative life has the nourishing power we normally associate with food, love, and faith.

    • Twyla Tharp,
    • in Mason Currey, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work ()

Twyla Tharp, U.S. dancer, choreographer

(1941)