American Masters: Twyla Moves

Air date: 03/26/2021

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

Premieres March 26 on PBS for Women’s History Month

 

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. 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. American Masters: Twyla Moves premieres nationwide Friday, March 26, 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/twylatharp and the PBS Video app in honor of Women’s History Month.

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. 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. 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.

Now in its 34th season on PBS, American Masters illuminates the lives and creative journeys of our nation’s most enduring artistic giants—those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape. Setting the standard for documentary film profiles, the series has earned widespread critical acclaim and 28 Emmy Awards—including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special—14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of more than 250 masters past and present, the American Masters website offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the American Masters Podcast, educational resources and more. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.

American Masters: 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.

Major funding for American Masters: Twyla Moves is provided by Jody and John Arnhold, and Susan Lacy.

Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Rosalind P. Walter, Judith & Burton Resnick, The Cheryl & Philip Milstein family, Vital Projects Fund, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Seton J. Melvin, Philip & Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen & James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation and public television viewers.

About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey and its news division, NJ SPOTLIGHT NEWS. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.

 

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

Zoom - Benjamin Buza dancing. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla dancing in the attic. Credit: Twyla Tharp Foundation

B&W photo. CU Twyla putting her hair up with dancers. Credit: Herbert Migdoll

Twyla on zoom with Benjamin Buza and Maria. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla on zoom with Herman and Misty. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla sitting on chair. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla dancing. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla dancing. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla tending to her knee. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

Twyla interview. Credit: Stick Figure FIlms LLC

B&W photo. CU Twyla and Baby Jesse. Credit: James Klosty

B&W footage. Dancers perform Medley in Park. Credit: Twyla Tharp Foundation

B&W photo. MS Three dancers in striped costumes performing In The Upper Room. Passé position arms stretched. Credit: Herbert Migdoll