The Best Twyla Tharp quotes

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What can you learn from the life of a dancer turned choreographer who has worked with everyone from Mikhail Baryshnikov to Madonna? In the quotes compilation of Twyla Tharp, you’ll find out how she rose to success despite numerous obstacles, and what tips and advice she has for entrepreneurs. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, there’s something to learn from this inspiring woman.

Discover the strongest Creative, Work, Dance, Dancing, Time, Creativity, Life, World quotes from Twyla Tharp, and much more.


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About Twyla Tharp

birth of the author

July 1, 1941

college of the author

Alma Mater:
Pomona College Barnard College

occupation of the author

Choreographer, Dancer

date of the author

Years Active:

award of the author

Drama Desk Award For Outstanding Choreography


I do everything I know how in a dance. — Twyla Tharp

What we want from modern dance is courage and audacity. — Twyla Tharp

I see dance as glue for a community. — Twyla Tharp

Dance is the stepchild of the arts. — Twyla Tharp

i do everything i know how in a dance Twyla Tharp quote

I always, somehow, knew that I was going to dance. — Twyla Tharp

Dance has never been a particularly easy life, and everybody knows that. — Twyla Tharp

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

Every dance I make is a dive into this well of ancient memory. — Twyla Tharp

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

what we want from modern dance is courage and audacity Twyla Tharp quote

I feel I can handle the architecture of dance as well as anybody. — Twyla Tharp

A lot of people insisted on a wall between modern dance and ballet. I’m beginning to think that walls are very unhealthy things. — Twyla Tharp

People often say to me, ‘I don’t know anything about dance.’ I say, ‘Stop. You got up this morning, and you’re walking. You are an expert.’ — Twyla Tharp


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Dance is the most fundamental of all art forms. — Twyla Tharp

I often say that in making dances I can make a world where I think things are done morally, done democratically, done honestly. — Twyla Tharp

i see dance as glue for a community Twyla Tharp quote

Playwrights have texts, composers have scores, painters and sculptors have the residue of those activities, and dance is traditionally an ephemeral, effervescent, here–today–gone–tomorrow kind of thing. — Twyla Tharp

The content and thematic materials of dance is, of itself, like boxing. You play tennis and baseball. But boxing is not a sport you play: you stand up and do it. — Twyla Tharp

Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art. — Twyla Tharp

Art is an investigation. — Twyla Tharp


A dancer’s life is all about repetition. — Twyla Tharp

a dancer s life is all about repetition Twyla Tharp quote

I have the wherewithal to challenge myself for my entire life. That’s a great gift. — Twyla Tharp

I think people want very much to simplify their lives enough so that they can control the things that make it possible to sleep at night. — Twyla Tharp

In the future, I will make certain that I commit to projects so there’s enough breathing space for me to have an emotional life. — Twyla Tharp

I’ve always thought my creative life began the moment my mother called me Twyla. — Twyla Tharp

When it all comes together, a creative life has the nourishing power we normally associate with food, love and faith. — Twyla Tharp

i have the wherewithal to challenge myself for my entire life that s a great gift Twyla Tharp quote

Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life. — Twyla Tharp

We want our artists to take the mundane materials of our lives, run it through their imaginations, and surprise us. — Twyla Tharp

If a thing moves, it lives. — Twyla Tharp

The blank space can be humbling. But I’ve faced it my whole professional life. It’s my job. It’s also my calling. Bottom line: Filling this empty space constitutes my identity. — Twyla Tharp

Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that they’re dead. — Twyla Tharp

i ve always thought my creative life began the moment my mother called me twyla Twyla Tharp quote


Creativity is an act of defiance. — Twyla Tharp

The thing about creativity is, people are going to laugh at it. Get over it. — Twyla Tharp

Solitude is an unavoidable part of creativity. Self–reliance is a happy by–product. — Twyla Tharp

You’re only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. — Twyla Tharp

Creativity requires quite a lot of faith–not just in yourself but also in the knowledge that you have the right to proceed, even when you may not know exactly what you’re doing. — Twyla Tharp

creativity is an act of defiance Twyla Tharp quote

Obligation is a flimsy base for creativity, way down the list behind passion, courage, instinct, and the desire to do something great. — Twyla Tharp

While most people in the arts think they have to be constantly looking forward to be edgy and creative….the real secret of creativity is to go back and remember. — Twyla Tharp

I don’t think that scheduling is uncreative. I think that structure is required for creativity. — Twyla Tharp

Once you accept the power of spine in the creative act, you will become much more efficient in your creativity. You will still get lost on occasion, but having a spine will anchor you. — Twyla Tharp

Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature–all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won. — Twyla Tharp

the thing about creativity is people are going to laugh at it get over it Twyla Tharp quote

Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it. — Twyla Tharp

Creativity is more about taking the facts, fictions, and feelings we store away and finding new ways to connect them. — Twyla Tharp

Our guys have a vision of something bigger. — Twyla Tharp


I had to become the greatest choreographer of my time. That was my mission, and that’s what I set out to do. — Twyla Tharp

I’m a known reader. That’s what I do with my time. — Twyla Tharp

i m a known reader that s what i do with my time Twyla Tharp quote

Energy and time are finite resources; conserving them is very important. — Twyla Tharp

Over time, as the daily routines become second nature, discipline morphs into habit. — Twyla Tharp

The way I enjoyed spending time most was dancing. That’s from the time I was a very small child, When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember already having a regime. It was the way I always identified myself. — Twyla Tharp

Redundant Thematics

In Twyla Tharp Statements


When the time came I would do battle with my mother for the right to sit at the center of my own life. — Twyla Tharp

After so many years, I’ve learned that being creative is a full–time job with its own daily patterns. That’s why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves. — Twyla Tharp

energy and time are finite resources conserving them is very important Twyla Tharp quote

I’ve always had to keep the walls in place, and the only way to do that is to keep yourself constantly occupied… From the time I was 8 years old, until I went to college, I worked… There was no social life. — Twyla Tharp

No one is born with skill. It is developed through exercise, through repetition, through a blend of learning and reflection that’s both painstaking and rewarding. And it takes time. — Twyla Tharp

Never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that demonstrating great technique is not the same as being creative. — Twyla Tharp

Just when you arrive at the apex of your skills, it’s time to retire. But as it turned out, I decided that since it was the thing that I felt I did best, I owed it to all that be to pursue it. — Twyla Tharp

I thought I had to make an impact on history. I had to become the greatest choreographer of my time. That was my mission. Posterity deals with us however it sees fit. But I gave it 20 years of my best shot. — Twyla Tharp

The great ones never take fundamentals for granted. — Twyla Tharp


The rewards of dancing are very different from choreographing. — Twyla Tharp

I have not wanted to intimidate audiences. I have not wanted my dancing to be an elitist form. That doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted it to be excellent. — Twyla Tharp

Dancing is like bank robbery, it takes split–second timing. — Twyla Tharp

When I was a kid, toe dancing and toe shoes had a meaning in our culture as a serious kind of art. — Twyla Tharp

the rewards of dancing are very different from choreographing Twyla Tharp quote

I started formal piano training when I was 4. From there I had little violas, and I had dancing lessons of every sort and description, and painting lessons. I had German. And shorthand. — Twyla Tharp

I do believe that when dancing is right, the movement possesses a logic common to us all. — Twyla Tharp

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. — Twyla Tharp


My father always said, ‘I don’t care if you’re a ditch digger, as long as you’re the best ditch digger in the world.’ — Twyla Tharp

In the not–for–profit world, there can be wastefulness because there’s not the desperate urgency of when you’re on a clock. — Twyla Tharp

without passion all the skill in the world won t lift you above craft Twyla Tharp quote

Without passion, all the skill in the world won’t lift you above craft. — Twyla Tharp

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

More often than not I’ve found, a rut is a consequence of sticking to tried and tested methods that don’t take into account how you or the world has changed. — Twyla Tharp

The more you fail in private, the less you will fail in public. — Twyla Tharp


I always find that the best collaborations are when you work with people that know what they’re doing, and you leave them alone to do it. — Twyla Tharp

i never studied with balanchine but his work was very important to me Twyla Tharp quote

I never studied with Balanchine, but his work was very important to me. — Twyla Tharp

The Creative Habit’ is basically about how you work alone, how you survive as a solitary artist. ‘the Collaborative Habit’ is obviously about surviving with other people. — Twyla Tharp

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. — Twyla Tharp

I am fairly concise when I work and I work quickly because I think work is done better in a high gear than done our in a gear when everyone’s exhausted. Get focused, do it! — Twyla Tharp

If you only do what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion — Twyla Tharp

Whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness the power of that kiss. — Twyla Tharp

I’m not one who divides music, dance or art into various categories. Either something works, or it doesn’t. — Twyla Tharp

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. — Twyla Tharp

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell … In order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative. — Twyla Tharp

I’ve always found it necessity to strip away everything but the most fundamental ways to work–the rest is style. — Twyla Tharp

I work because I have issues and questions and feelings and thoughts that I want to have a look at. I’m not in need of, or wanting, particularly, to know what other folk are up to. — Twyla Tharp

You may wonder which came first: the skill or the hard work. But that’s a moot point. The Zen master cleans his own studio. So should you. — Twyla Tharp

I would have to challenge the term, modern dance. I don’t really use that term in relation to my work. I simply think of it as dancing. I think of it as moving. — Twyla Tharp

I have to feel that each thing I’ve learned I can push to another point next time. I’m not very good with repetition. I would rather not work than feel that repetition is the order of the day. — Twyla Tharp


Failing, and learning from it, is necessary. Unil you’ve done it, you’re missing an important piece of your creative arsenal. — Twyla Tharp

in order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative Twyla Tharp quote

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 order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative. — Twyla Tharp

The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightening bold of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone. — Twyla Tharp

TWYLA THARP Quotes Take Away

If you are feeling stuck or like you’ve hit a wall in your creative process, take some time to read through these inspiring quotes from Twyla Tharp. They may be just what you need to jump start your creativity and get you moving again. And if you want to learn more about how to unleash your inner artist, check out our courses. We have something for everyone, regardless of experience level or where you are in your creative journey.

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