Your Cart UMS
April 29, 2021

Twyla Tharp to Receive U-M Honorary Degree

Twyla Tharp

©Richard Avedon Courtesy of the Richard Avedon Foundation

Five leaders in the areas of information technology, engineering, human rights, and the arts have been recommended to receive honorary degrees at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus’ 2021 Spring Commencement, including Twyla Tharp, the Tony- and Emmy award-winning choreographer and dancer.

Tharp will also speak at the Rackham Graduate Exercises on Friday, April 30 at 7 pm.


Twyla Tharp at UMS

UMS has presented The Twyla Tharp Dance Company twice. The company performed in Power Center in 1996 and 2002.

Before launching her own company, Tharp also appeared as a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in their first UMS appearance in 1964.

The Twyla Tharp Dance Company

About Twyla Tharp (from The University Record)

A world-renowned choreographer and dancer, Tharp has thrilled audiences for more than five decades with her electrifying compositions that combine ballet and modern dance with jazz, rock, and other genres of music. She has created more than 160 works, including 129 dances, 12 television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows, and two figure skating routines.

Tharp began playing piano at age 4. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963 from Barnard College and launched her own dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance, in 1965.

Tharp choreographed the early ballet-modern dance crossovers “Deuce Coupe” for the Joffrey Ballet and “Push Comes to Shove” for the American Ballet Theatre. Her television credits include choreographing “Sue’s Leg” and co-producing and directing “Making Television Dance.” She won two Emmy Awards and the Directors Guild of America Award for the television special “Baryshnikov by Tharp.”

Tharp has created dances for many leading companies, including the ABT, Australian Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, and Paris Opera Ballet. Her film credits for choreography include “Hair,” “Ragtime,” “Amadeus,” “White Nights” and “I’ll Do Anything.”

Tharp debuted on Broadway with “When We Were Very Young,” followed by “The Catherine Wheel” and “Singin’ In The Rain. Her musical “Movin’ Out,”, set to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel, won a Tony Award for Best Choreography. In addition, she choreographed “The Times They Are A-Changin’” to Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics, and “Come Fly Away” to favorite Frank Sinatra songs.

Tharp has authored four books, including her autobiography, “Push Comes to Shove,” and “Keep It Moving, Lessons for the Rest of Your Life.”

She is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Tharp received a National Medal of Arts in 2004 and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery featured her in its critically acclaimed “Dancing the Dream” exhibition in 2013-14.