writers on dancing


In brief

Twyla Tharp

While not as exciting as a program of her choreography, an opportunity to hear Twyla Tharp speak is always an invigorating and provocative event. She was in fine form—relaxed, humorous, engaged with her audience—on Wednesday, February 9 at Symphony Space's intimate Thalia Theater. Dressed casually in a loose gray sweater, gray pants and sneakers, she was there to discuss and publicize (complete with book signing afterward) "The Creative Habit," her 2003 book, as part of the ongoing Thalia Book Club. She summarized, and commented on, the contents of each chapter for about a half hour, and then took questions for nearly an hour. Many in the audience seemed familiar with the book already, and quite a few were writers themselves who sought out her advice regarding their own creative stumbling blocks.

Early on, she asked for, and quickly got, a volunteer "who's experiencing really bad writer's block," brought her up onstage and listened sympathetically to her plight. Tharp directed her to curl up in what she called "the egg position" for a while and then perform some directed movement exercises, suggesting she practice these exercises regularly to help jump-start her work. Among the advice she gave offered from her own work experiences, was "don't be afraid of research. It's a valuable prod to your imagination" and "You won't scare away your creativity by being prepared." At the same time, she added, "you have to be willing to let a lot of preparation go; it was only there to get you started." At one point, discussing "In the Upper Room" she cited earlier works she feels led up to, and fed into, that landmark 1986 dance: "Mud" (1977), "Fait Accompli" (1984), and—tantalizingly—an 1984 project called "The Hollywood Kiss" that was never performed. It receives only the smallest passing mention in her 1992 book "Push Comes to Shove." She remarked that what helped shape "Upper Room" was the fact that she had begun studying yoga, which became "a binding element" within the choreography. Tharp did not refer at all to her current, rather hush-hush, project to the music of Bob Dylan—which, according to that day's New York Post, had a recent workshop presentation for producers, with John Selya among the performers—Susan Reiter

Danny Tidwell's "Spectre de la Rose"

I was rereading George Borodin's remembrances of a performance he had seen in Russia as a boy of ten: Nijinsky and Karsavina in "Le Spectre de la Rose." Borodin wrote that Nijinsky did not leap, but wafted about the room, a rose petal borne by a zephyr. Watching Danny Tidwell dance the Spectre last weekend at the Sunday matinee performance of ABT's Fokine program at the Kennedy Center, I kept thinking of that image, and wondered what Borodin would have made of him. Tidwell's dancing was soft and pliant, that of a creature rather than a man, though a decidedly masculine creature. He seemed to be the embodiment of The Young Girl's (Maria Riccetto's) imagination. Her idea of courtship would have been an evening filled with shy glances and hand kisses and pink rosebuds, and he was happy to make his dancing as sweet as her girlish idea of love. It was easy to imagine the Spectre being different on other occasions. In another room, he would be a more insistent, full-bodied red rose; in yet another, a cold white one, a rose of dead dreams.  But here he was pink and hopeful and, yes, rosy, all twirling arms and tendril fingers, waltz-wafting the Girl about her room and disappearing as gently as he had come, blown out the window by a sudden breeze.—Alexandra Tomalonis

Volume 3, No. 7
February 14, 2005


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The Autumn Issue of DanceView is OUT! (Our subscription link is working again, so it's easy to subscribe on line!)

Robert Greskovic reviews two new DVDs of Fonteyn dancing "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella"

Mary Cargill on last summer's Ashton Celebration

Profile of Gililian Murphy, reviews of the ABT Spring season, springtime in Paris, reports from London and San Francisco

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last updated on January31, 2005