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Twyla Tharp is an entrepreneur, manager, author, accomplished businesswoman and award-winning choreographer. She began working at only 8 years old, when she bagged and served popcorn at the snack counter in her parents’ drive-in theater. She went on to found Tharp Dance company in 1965. Since then she has choreographed over 125 dances and won dozens of awards, including a Tony for her company’s performance in “Movin’ Out.”

Through her dance company, Tharp has learned to identify talent in unlikely places by finding unknown dancers and “rediscovering” older dancers. She has compared her choreography work to management, saying, “When you’re telling a dancer what to do, you’re managing that person’s behavior by communicating.” She encourages her dancers to “stretch the numbers” and do a little more than they believe is possible.

In her latest book, The Creative Habit: Use it for Life, Tharp explained how anyone can harness their creative power. “Magical moments of inspiration have little to do with creativity,” she said. “It’s mainly a matter of discipline—lots and lots and lots of discipline.” Tharp’s presentations inspire both work ethic and creativity in peers, family members and employees.

Full Profile

    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.

    Comparing her choreography work to management, “When you’re telling a dancer what to do, you’re managing that person’s behavior by communicating. In that light my managerial role boils down to four tasks:” Identifying talent, seeking the spectacular, making them stretch, and being a parent. Her latest book, The Creative Habit: Use It For Life explains how anyone can harness the same creative power that Tharp utilizes.

    Tharp 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’s presentations instill a work ethic and inspire creativity 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.


Twyla Tharp Speaker Videos Back to top

Twyla Tharp - Creative DNA Speech


Speaking at Guilford College, Tharp discussed creative DNA. “Each of us is talented,” she said. “It is our responsibility to locate our particular gift, and to nurture it.” She spoke with a student named Natalie about physical presence versus represented presence, comparing the art of dance to visual art like painting. “We leave our bodies by the time we’re age five,” Tharp said. She explained that physical power is intimidating because “it reminds us that we have lost the connection to our bodies.”

Tharp asked Natalie what she wanted to “become,” and Natalie replied that she was “lost.” Tharp observed that Natalie was “too talented” and had “too many choices,” adding “it’s not necessarily a blessing.” She provided sections from her book, which can help Natalie and others like her find focus.

Twyla Tharp Interview


Twyla Tharp Speech Clips



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


In her program, based on her acclaimed how-to guide, Tharp shares practical lessons and exercises for stimulating ideas, getting out of a rut and finding inspiration. She explains how creative thinking can increase your productivity and happiness whether you’re an artist or a businessperson.

The Creative Habit
Creativity isn't just for artists! Whether you're a painter or a businessperson, making an effort to think creatively can increase your productivity and your happiness. All it takes is the willingness to make it a habit. In this presentation, based on her acclaimed "how-to" guide, Tharp shares practical lessons and exercises for stimulating ideas creation, getting out of a rut, and finding inspiration in the everyday.




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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The Creative Habit
Creativity isn't just for artists! Whether you're a painter or a businessperson, making an effort to think creatively can increase your productivity and your happiness. All it takes is the willingness to make it a habit. In this presentation, based on her acclaimed "how-to" guide, Tharp shares practical lessons and exercises for stimulating ideas creation, getting out of a rut, and finding inspiration in the everyday.

Twyla Tharp - Creative DNA Speech


Speaking at Guilford College, Tharp discussed creative DNA. “Each of us is talented,” she said. “It is our responsibility to locate our particular gift, and to nurture it.” She spoke with a student named Natalie about physical presence versus represented presence, comparing the art of dance to visual art like painting. “We leave our bodies by the time we’re age five,” Tharp said. She explained that physical power is intimidating because “it reminds us that we have lost the connection to our bodies.”

Tharp asked Natalie what she wanted to “become,” and Natalie replied that she was “lost.” Tharp observed that Natalie was “too talented” and had “too many choices,” adding “it’s not necessarily a blessing.” She provided sections from her book, which can help Natalie and others like her find focus.

Twyla Tharp Interview


Twyla Tharp Speech Clips