Exclusive Clip of a Young Twyla Tharp…Being Very Twyla

March 22, 2021

Twyla Tharp
is well-known for being a singularly no-nonsense artist. In this clip, you can see just how matter-of-factly she spoke about her own choreography even back in her 30s: She talks through each gesture of a phrase in the “Black Bottom Stomp” from her classic Eight Jelly Rolls, describing her step inspirations—from “shame on you, you’re a bad person” to “this is my notion of some Jewish something or other”—with total deadpan.

This footage is one highlight from American Masters: Twyla Moves, a documentary about Tharp debuting this Friday, March 26, on PBS. The film mines historical footage to showcase her legendary background as a choreographer and also follows a new project she crafted virtually with ballet stars like Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo and Maria Khoreva during COVID-19 lockdowns. Check pbs.org to find out when you can catch it on your local station.