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Research Guides

Chamber Dance Company Archive: Twyla Tharp

A unique collection of video documenting the UW Chamber Dance Dance Company's over 25 year history of performing modern dance classics.

Twyla Tharp

American dancer, choreographer, company director

Born Portland, Indiana, 1 July 1941.

Award-winning dancer and choreographer for stage, film and television, Twyla Tharp has created over 135 dances in her career. She studied a variety of musical instruments and dance styles as a child growing up in California. Intending to become a psychiatrist, Tharp attended Pomona College only to transfer during her second year to Barnard and to study ballet, modern and jazz in NYC. After dancing briefly with the Paul Taylor Company, she founded her own company in 1965, creating work that only partially reflected the reigning postmodern sensibility; she believed in classical technique and in dance movement that was distinct from pedestrian activity. Tharp created Fugue in an effort to develop movement as intrinsically logical as music, with a structure based on retrograde, inversion, reversal, and other manipulations of the phrase. Fugue is choreographed in twenty sections, each with a discrete beginning.

Watch a performance of Tharp's The Fugue at the Media Arcade in Vol. 44 of the Chamber Dance Company Archive (DVD UWDP 001 v.44).