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Twyla Tharp instructing at Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2008.
Courtesy of Marc von Borstel
Twyla Tharp instructing at Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2008.

Friday, July 8, 2022 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand now with KPBS Passport!

—New Documentary on Choreographer Twyla Tharp Features Exclusive Preview of Her Latest Dance Work, Created Virtually During the Pandemic—

AMERICAN MASTERS “Twyla Moves” explores the life of legendary dancer, director and choreographer Twyla Tharp. Jumping from historical footage to the present day, the film traces her influential career while providing an intimate look at her famously rigorous creative process.


Emmy®-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steven Cantor (AMERICAN MASTERS "Willie Nelson: Still is Still Moving") follows Tharp as she builds a high-profile work from the ground up with an international cast of ballet stars, including Misty Copeland, Herman Cornejo and Maria Khoreva, who rehearse by video conference while under quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.

Twyla Tharp: Inside Look

The film also features never-before seen interviews and select performances from Tharp’s vast array of more than 160 choreographed works, including 129 dances, 12 television specials, six major Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines.

What's it like choreographing a dance for Zoom?

A pioneer of both modern dance and ballet, Tharp discusses her inspiration and the process behind creating her trailblazing dances, such as “Fugue,” “Push Comes to Shove” and “Baker’s Dozen,” her cinematic partnership with Miloš Forman (“Hair,” “Amadeus,” “Ragtime”) and her wildly successful Broadway career collaborating with such luminaries as Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra and David Byrne.

The time Twyla Tharp pushed David Byrne to his limits

Reflecting on her road to success and her quest to constantly evolve as a person and a choreographer, Tharp shares her stories of triumph and defeat, and how she remains deeply in love with dance.

Tharp and Baryshnikov's "totally unexpected" collaboration

The documentary also features interviews with her family, friends and closest collaborators: the dancers, choreographers, directors and musicians she’s worked with and influenced throughout her life, including Joel, Byrne, Copeland, Cornejo, Khoreva and more.

Twyla Tharp's Famous 'Eight Jelly Roll' Dance


7 lessons on creativity from dance legend Twyla Tharp

A dancer recalls the “exhilarating, exhausting impossibility” of Twyla Tharp’s choreography

How does Twyla Tharp, nearly 80, keep working? According to her, it’s simple

Here some takeaways from the documentary "Twyla Moves" in which Tharp imparts some key creative lessons and tenets that have helped shape her life and career.

Watch On Your Schedule:

This film is available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video App, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.

Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

Twyla Tharp dancing.
Courtesy of Stick Figure FIlms LLC
Twyla Tharp dancing.

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The series is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. “Twyla Moves” is a production of Stick Figure Entertainment in association with American Masters Pictures. Steven Cantor is director. Jamie Schutz is producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer of AMERICAN MASTERS.