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Twyla Tharp’s very valuable college decision

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When choreographer Twyla Tharp arrived at Barnard College she was immediately disappointed with their dance offerings. So she directed her own dance studies using New York City as her classroom. In addition, a second concentration the college turned out to be “very valuable” for Tharp’s career.

- History was not the major that I came to New York with, I came to New York pre-med.

I transferred for a various number of reasons, but amongst them was because I also came to New York to study dance.

And I came to study modern dance as well as classical ballet, and when I went to begin my modern classes at Barnard downstairs next to the swimming pool in a little studio and was told, 'Okay, we're gonna do a sunrise,' I said, 'I did not come to New York to learn to dance sunrises.'

I went to the dean of the school and said, 'I will be conducting my own dance education in the city, I will be studying with Martha Graham, I'll be studying with Merce Cunningham, I'll be studying with Luigi, Eric Hawkins, I will be studying at ABT with Svenska and Peri Slavic and you will give me credit for that.'

And she said, 'okay', which meant I was taking two dancing classes a day, when I was at Barnard, and art history turned out to be a really good choice because I could cram slides on the weekend.

I didn't have to attend any classes.

And I graduated very nicely, with a degree in something that actually turned out to be extraordinarily valuable.