It's always a problem, getting the curtain in at the end of the first act; having enough of a resolve so that you can bring the curtain in and then opening the show a second time is a little bizarre as a tradition. I've always preferred to go straight through.
I've always believed that a dance evening energizes an audience, that an audience goes out feeling chemically stronger and more optimistic. This is what I understand about dance. And this is an important thing. We need this. Our culture needs it.
I look for dancers who have all the technique in the world. But they must be dancers who are open-minded, who are willing to forget that they know anything. They also have to be gorgeous; they must have a clear image of themselves and strong personalities.
Bum's Rush' is a piece about timing, and everything that's in the piece needs to be with the piece. If people are missing, or marking, or unable to use their voices, the impulses that prompt the action are lost, and its logic crumbles.
Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. That's the missing element in the popular portrait of Mozart.
When I say I can see through clothes, sometimes I try to use it as an X-ray vision to look into the dancer and see who this dancer is right now, at this exact moment in time. I live inside them in a way.
My mother was the first woman in the county in Indiana where we were born, in Jay County, to have a college degree. She was educated as a pianist and she wanted to concertize, but when the war came she was married, had a family, so she started teaching.
I learned very early that an audience would relax and look at things differently if they felt they could laugh with you from time to time. There's an energy that comes through the release of tension that is laughter.
I grew up in a drive-in theater, from the time I was 8, working in a snack bar watching four features every week. It was silent theater in the sense that this was a drive-in, which meant that I often saw the films going with no sound. But I learned to tell stories through action.
To survive, you've got to keep wheedling your way. You can't just sit there and fight against odds when it's not going to work. You have to turn a corner, dig a hole, go through a tunnel - and find a way to keep moving.
There's the tradition of the 19th-century ballets, and the 20th century has had a difficult time with that tradition. And it's had a difficult time with many components of the Romantic imagination because of modernism.
What I do remember is visualization of the sound of music, seeing bodies in movement in relation to how music sounded, because my mother practiced at the keyboard a lot and I also went to her lessons. As a two year old, three year old I remember seeing things in movement.
My mother was a dominant force in my life. She had a very specific idea about education, which was: you should know everything about everything. It was quite simple. There was no exclusivity, and there really was no judgment.
I began to discriminate between fear and excitement. The two, though very close, are completely different. Fear is negative excitement, choking your imagination. Real excitement produces an energy that overcomes apprehension and makes you want to close in on your goal.
I had received my first establishment grants in response to applications filed the year before. To the pages of baffling forms I had simply attached a handwritten note saying, 'I make dances, not applications. Send the money. Love, Twyla.
I repeat the wake-up, the workout, the quick shower, the breakfast of three hard-boiled egg whites and a cup of coffee, the hour to make my morning calls and deal with correspondence, the two hours of stretching and working out ideas by myself in the studio ... That's my day, every day. A dancer's life is all about repetition.
The irony of multitasking is that it's exhausting: when you're doing two or three things simultaneously, you use more energy than the sum of energy required to do each task independently. You're also cheating yourself because your're not doing anything excellently. You're compromising your virtuosity. In the words of T. S. Elliot, you're 'distracted from distractions by distractions'.
Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life.
My greatest fear in working is always the end. Lately I have taken to tricking myself into finishing by leaving a hole in the middle somewhere, then stitching the two pieces together - the Union Pacific approach.
Playwrights have texts, composers have scores, painters and sculptors have the residue of those activities, and dance is traditionally an ephemeral, effervescent, here-today-gone-tomorrow kind of thing.
It was not until I had graduated from college that I made a professional commitment to it. Frankly, I didn't think it wise. I was my own interior parental force, and it's very difficult to justify a profession as a dancer.
A tough manager will have realistic quotas for his employees that he keeps to himself and aggressively stretch quotas, anywhere from ten percent higher to a lot more, which he imposes on his staff. If his people miss the stretch numbers but exceed the realistic goals, he's happy. If he's a superb manager, he knows how far they can stretch without breaking.
Proust writes, he remembers, physically. He depends on his body to give him the information that will bring him to the past. His book is called 'In Search of Lost Time,' and he does it through the senses. He does it through smell. He does it through feeling. He does it through texture. It is all physically driven, that language.
Well, Mozart is extraordinary not only in that he became virtuoso along the lines of his father, but that he had that compositional gift, that melodic gift. By the time he was four, he was doing piano concertos with harmony in the background.
At the ballet classes I took when I first came to New York, I would see great dancers like Cynthia Gregory and Lupe Serrano. I would look at them and study what they could do, and what I couldn't do. And then I'd think maybe they should try what I could do.
Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.
Schubert had arguably the same melodic gift as Mozart, but even less support. He didn't have the early exposure, never got to travel anywhere, and yet generated and amassed a body of work that grew and developed and is very profound.
My favorite audience is everybody. I worked in a drive-in theater from the time I was 8 years old until I went to college, and I'm accustomed to everybody can buy a ticket and everybody should be taken into account.
When I started thinking seriously about learning the rules of narrative, I thought, 'You've learned the rules of dancing from the ballet; what's the matter with learning the laws of theater from the people who know how to do it?'