You don’t expect a 74-year-old woman to sound the way Twyla Tharp does. Her voice is deep and forceful, suggestive of someone who is used to being obeyed. Which makes sense: As one of America’s most esteemed choreographers, Tharp has been telling dancers what to do for a very long time. For her 50th anniversary tour, though, she didn’t reach back for an evening of greatest hits — instead, she’s created two entirely new works, “Preludes and Fugues” and “Yowzie.”
Most anniversary shows involve looking backward. Why did you choose to create something new for this?
I’m always greedy. I always want to do something new. The way I interpreted the 50th anniversary tour was “50 years ago you started. Now let’s see what you could do now that you couldn’t do then.”
What can you do now that you couldn’t do then?
A lot of character, a lot of narrative. I’ve spent years watching people watch dances, so now I’m better at registering how other people see things.
In terms of the audience?
Every audience member has a different experience. The view is different if you’re in the center orchestra section than if you’re off to the left in the balcony. But this is part of the definition of life: It changes based on perception. Dance is the most literal art in reflecting life because it changes all the time. One might argue that any live show is like life, but plays can be registered [for posterity]. Shakespeare has been around for centuries; his plays could be registered, but the dances could not. The dances were considered ephemeral. Up until the moment they could be documented, dance was the most truthful art.
Is there anything that would make you stop working?
I can’t imagine why we would want to discuss that subject. We use what we have to push forward; you’re not going to suddenly stop. Everything is a launching platform for what comes next.
Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Thu. & Fri., 7:30 p.m., Sat., 1:30 & 7:30 p.m., $49-$89.
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