Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Inspired to make collaboration a creative habit: Twyla Tharp

One of my goals this year is to improve my creative collaborations.  And I’m finding inspiration from a lot of sources.

In her book, The Collaborative Habit, Twyla Tharp illustrates her many years of collaborative partnerships and the lessons learned in her exciting career as a dance choreographer.

A couple of years ago, my colleague Brandy wrote a review of this book – with lessons for a team from a dancer’s perspective.

Here are Brandy's insights on the book based on her own experiences.

Twyla opens The Collaborative Habit saying, "Many of the stories “I'll be telling involve the world of dance, but you don't have to know anything about dance . . .  Work is work."

As a dancer and choreographer, Twyla Tharp first engaged the literary world with her works Push Comes to Shove and most recent The Creative Habit.  When you see a book written by Twyla Tharp you expect it to be interesting; The Collaborative Habit doesn't let you down.  In fact, you may just feel slightly jealous as she guides you through her stories of not so ordinary collaborations:  Dance greats such as Bob Joffrey, Baryshnikov and Jerome Robbins, and music legends such as Billy Joel and Elvis Costello.

Many of us can relate to the challenges of awkward collaborations and the successes of great collaborations.  Even though Twyla’s collaborations are about dance, they make sense to any industry -- collaboration with an institution (American Ballet Theatre), collaborating remotely (email), collaborating with your polar opposite and even collaborating with a friend, one of the stickiest collaborations.   

Her stories couldn’t be closer to business and teamwork as we know it today and offer great lessons learned for any team.

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