Twyla Tharp (born July 1, 1941) is an American dancer and choreographer, who lives and works in New York City.
Tharp was born in 1941 on a farm in Portland, Indiana, and was named after Twila Thornburg, the "Pig Princess" of the 89th Annual Muncie Fair in Indiana.
When Tharp was a young child she spent a few months each year living with her Quaker grandparents on their farm in Indiana. In 1950 Tharp's family—younger sister Twanette, twin brothers Stanley and Stanford, mother Lecile and father William—moved to Rialto, California. Her parents opened a drive-in movie theater, where Tharp worked from the time she was 8 years old. The drive-in was on the corner of Acacia and Foothill, the major east–west artery in Rialto and the path of Route 66. She attended Pacific High School in San Bernardino and studied at the Vera Lynn School of Dance. Tharp, a "devoted bookworm," admits that this schedule left little time for a social life. Tharp attended Pomona College in California but later transferred to Barnard College in New York City, where she graduated with a degree in Art History in 1963. It was in New York that she studied with Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. In 1963 Tharp joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company.