Tony and Emmy Award winner Twyla Tharp brought the lessons in her book "The Creative Habit" to Meredith College on April 13, 2011. Tharp presented the 2011 Woman of Achievement Lecture, which is part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Presidential Lecture Series at Meredith College.
Tharp credited her mother for setting her on the path to a successful creative life.
"From my mother, I learned a woman can do anything … women can do anything they want," Tharp said. "Don't let anyone stop you, ever, in what you are trying to accomplish."
One of the book's lessons is how to conquer fear in the creative process, which she said could be one of the major barriers to accomplishing goals.
"To counteract your fears, acknowledge that they are there," Tharp said. "But mostly, it is about 'get over it.' Don't worry about whether it is perfect or not."
Tharp used Meredith College student volunteers to illustrate some of the book's concepts. These exercises included having students and the audience practice a simple dance until it was in their muscle memory, and having a student practice a self-isolation method Tharp calls "The Egg."
One chapter in "The Creative Habit" covers how to recognize one's creative DNA.
"All of us have certain gifts, all of us lack certain gifts," Tharp said. "We need to recognize the differences."
However, Tharp said a creative person has to avoid only doing those things for which he or she has natural skills.
"You can't just do the things you love. You need to be willing to engage in your lesser forces, to address some of your weaknesses," Tharp said.
Tharp has choreographed more than 135 dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed four Broadway shows and written two books. She received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, 19 honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President's Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the 2008 Jerome Robbins Prize, and a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor. Her many grants include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Meredith President Maureen Hartford presented Tharp with an award commemorating the 2011 Woman of Achievement Lecture. Hartford said Tharp had "created art and beauty, sparked discussion…inspired generations of dancers and risen to the very top of her profession."
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