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The time Twyla Tharp set up a performance in Central Park

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Archival footage shows one of Twyla Tharp’s dances in Central Park amongst football games, bicyclists, police on horseback, and picnickers. The location made it impossible to have a separation between audience members and performers. And Tharp learned some valuable things about choreography and distance from the experience.

- So we were a well balanced group.

We had very little rehearsal space and in order to get more work time, we just started working in the park.

(upbeat music) I started thinking about distances.

And I started thinking about, oh if somebody's close you do this kind of movement and you'll see it.

But when they're 20 feet away you do that, you're not gonna see that.

You gotta do this kind of movement.

And if they're 40 feet away, and then if they're a hundred yards down there, you got to do this.

(upbeat music) Here are all these people.

They're having their lives.

They're walking around.

They don't have to buy tickets and sit down.

You're interjecting yourself into their reality.

There were football games going through us, and horseback people, and babies are scrawling bicycles and going through the dance.

And you're saying yeah, we're just the same as a bicycle.

Or we're just an element in the park.

That's not what the Theatrical Dance is.

Theatrical dance is separated.

Here's the audience.

Here's the event.

We were merged.

(upbeat music) There was a very long slow adagio at the end.

It went on forever and the sun is setting behind it.

And that's how you knew it was over because the energy had run out.

(upbeat music)