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Twyla Tharp’s Famous ‘Eight Jelly Roll’ Dance

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Choreographed by Twyla Tharp in 1971 ‘Eight Jelly Rolls’ has become a canonical work in American dance history. The style exhibited in the performance combines elements from classical ballet, jazz, tap, athletics, hip-hop, and also includes music by Jelly Roll Morton.

- [Twyla Tharp] Eight Jelly Rolls featured me in a role as a silent clown.

(jazz music) Those early pieces were kind of tribute pieces to American theatrics.

In Vaudeville, women did not do the stuff Buster Keaton did.

So I said, well, I can do that stuff.

Okay, guys can do it.

I can do it.

I can do a (indistinct) fall.

(jazz music continues) (heavy footsteps) I didn't wanna be stopped by any of the sort of cliches about what women could do or couldn't do.