on the program, Yowzie, features music by contemporary
American jazz musicians Henry Butler, Steve Bernstein,
and John Zorn, and is meant to be humorous. “I try to find
something for everyone,” Tharp says.
While Tharp has been dancing since childhood, she
graduated from Barnard College with a degree in Art History.
It is a subject that still inspires her. She says, “Art history has
been an invaluable resource for me. It has context. Through
it, you see tradition expressed in a thousand different ways.”
Tharp will perform with a company of 14 dancers.
“They are a remarkable group,” she says, adding, “They
have a facility of amalgamation of movements. They are also
good actors.” Being able to master movement and agility is
a hallmark of her dancers. Their training includes the Tree
Frog Technique that Tharp devised, involving isometrics
and centering. Tharp lives by what she teaches, saying, “It
has been my desire to broaden my range as much as possible.”
And she expects the same for her dancers. Company classes
still include ballet. Many of Tharp’s dancers take other forms
of cross-training. “Physical is a lesson learned,” says Tharp.
Weight-training helps Tharp with stamina and power. “It
brings in another vein in partnering,” she says. “Flexibility
is a virtue, and that’s having a huge impact on everyone’s
lives,” she adds.
Santos is delighted that TITAS will be hosting this world
premiere. He and Tharp have worked together on other
projects locally from her last tour in 2002 to her Nasher
Salon appearance in 2009. TITAS Presents and the AT&T
Performing Arts Center are among six organizations co-commissioning this work. The other organizations are The
Joyce Theatre in New York City, The Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., The Auditorium
Theatre and Ravinia Festival in Chicago, and The Wallis
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
Santos explains that last summer Tharp sent him a message,
saying she wanted to talk to him about a project. Around the
same time, he attended the annual Dance/USA conference
where he ran into a colleague from the Kennedy Center, who
told him that she was happy that TITAS was on board. At
that point, he wasn’t sure what it was that he was on board
to do. “Then everything started rolling,” he says. When
this kind of opportunity presented itself, the relationship
with the AT&T Performing Arts Center was fortuitous.
“This is the first time the center has stepped in with us for
a commission.” He goes on to credit the Performing Arts
Center for its generosity with Tharp and her dancers. Since
the last part of any commission is worked out in the theater,
the Performing Arts Center is giving them the necessary
time in-house to work out details.
“Twyla Tharp is marking a new era for TITAS. This will
be our first dance-only season. I think it is going to be a
landmark event,” Santos says, adding, “The press is coming
from all over the world to see Twyla Tharp, and they will
also see what’s happening in Dallas. We want Dallas to be
a cultural destination. We want the AT&T Performing Arts
Center to be known as a center for creativity.” He concludes,
“There has been an enormous amount of interest in this
show. You don’t have to be a dance aficionado to enjoy
Twyla Tharp’s work.” P