Tag Archives: Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit

There are plenty of opportunities to see great dance and theater performances in San Diego. I miss a lot due to inattention and lack of planning, but I managed to get tickets for Come Fly Away, the Broadway musical choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp. A live big band performs onstage with one vocalist and the voice of Frank Sinatra while a cast of dancers tell the story through the choreography. Sounds like heaven to me.

I’ve long admired Tharp’s work and I loved Movin’ Out, the 2003 Tony winner for Best Choreography, also directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Movin’ Out was a similar format, with a singer/pianist and a band performing the music of Billy Joel on a raised platform while dancers performed onstage.

Tharp also wrote one of my favorite books on creativity, The Creative Habit.

There are twelve chapters densely packed with practical advice based on her more than forty years of creative productivity. She shares what she’s learned, how she figured it out, and offers thirty-two exercises to help artists of every genre build their own creative rituals and habits.

Two of my favorite chapters are Spine, about finding the central idea, the meaning behind your story; and Skill, the reminder that talent does exist, but that hard work, study and practicing to build the skills we lack give us the foundation for our creativity.

Tharp says that “the best creativity is a result of good work habits.” I’ve found that I’m happiest with my work when I stick with the habits I’ve built for myself. I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned from her book and delighted that I’ll have another chance to see the result of her creative habits when I watch Come Fly Away.

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Filed under Art, Books, Creativity, Dance, Writing