Twyla Tharp: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Twyla Tharp

Renowned Choreogrpaher & Author

Twyla Tharp is much more than just another “award-winning choreographer,” she’s an entrepreneur, manager, and accomplished businesswoman.

Tharp's entrepreneurial drive led her to found Twyla Tharp Dance company in 1965. From its humble beginnings, to its Tony Award-winning performance in “Movin’ Out," Tharp has grown the business by motivating, managing, and maintaining it the only way she knows how: with creativity and discipline.

“Magical moments of inspiration have little to do with creativity. It’s mainly a matter of discipline—lots and lots and lots of discipline.” Tharp says.

In a career that has spanned four decades, Tharp has collaborated with great musicians, designers, thousands of dancers, and almost a hundred companies. She's experienced the thrill of shared achievement and has seen what happens when group efforts fizzle. Her professional life has been -- and continues to be -- one collaboration after another.

In The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together, the practical sequel to her national bestseller The Creative Habit: Use It For Life, Tharp explains why collaboration is important to her -- and can be for you. She shows how to recognize good candidates for partnership, how to build one successfully, and analyzes dysfunctional collaborations. And although this isn't a concept that promises to help you deepen your romantic life, she suggests that the lessons you learn by working together professionally can help you in your personal relationships.

These lessons about planning, listening, organizing, troubleshooting, and using your talents and those of your coworkers to the fullest are not limited to the arts; they are the building blocks of working with others, like if you're stuck in a 9-to-5 job and have an unhelpful boss, they translate seamlessly to the corporate world.

Tharp sees collaboration as a daily practice, and her book is rich in examples from her career. Starting as a 12 year old teaching dance to her brothers in a small town in California and moving through her work as a fledgling choreographer in New York, she learns lessons that have enriched her collaborations with Billy Joel, Jerome Robbins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Richard Avedon, Milos Forman, Norma Kamali, and Frank Sinatra.

In The Creative Habit Tharp explains how anyone can harness the same creative power that she utilizes. She learned to identify talent in unlikely places by finding talented dancers with little experience, or ‘rediscovering’ older dancers. She seeks out the spectacular when hiring, making her dancers stretch to do a little more than they believe is possible - a concept she sees as no different than a CEO like Jack Welch asking employees to “stretch the numbers.”

One would expect no less from a woman who has no problem being a workaholic. She began working at age 8, bagging popcorn and serving at the snack counter at her parents’ drive-in theater. She has gone on to choreograph more than 125 dances, win a mantel-load of awards, write an autobiography, and raise a son, all while still developing her dance company. “To me, life is work—end of story,” Tharp says.

At the podium, Tharp’s presentations instill a work ethic and inspire creativity and the importance of collaboration into all who see them: peers, family members, or even employees. Don’t let the gym clothes and dance shoes fool you, she’s here on business.

Interested in booking Twyla Tharp to speak at your next event?

Contact Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau.

(866) 248-3049

  • The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons For Working Together
  • The Creative Habit: Use It For Life
  • The Better You

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