The Collaborative Habit

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about collaborating, it’s Twyla Tharp. The world-renowned choreographer has worked with the likes of Billy Joe, Jerome Robbins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Richard Avedon, Milos Forman, Norma Kamali, and Frank Sinatra.

This week, The Collaborative Habit, Tharp’s sequel to her national bestseller The Creative Habit hits stores. Tharp explains why collaboration is important to her — and can be for you. She shows how to recognize good candidates for partnership and how to build one successfully, and analyzes dysfunctional collaborations.

Among the surprising and inspiring points Tharp makes in The Collaborative Habit:

-In a good collaboration, differences between partners mean that one plus one will always equal more than two. A good collaborator is easier to find than a good friend. If you’ve got a true friendship, you want to protect that. To work together is to risk it.

-Getting involved with your collaborator’s problems may distract you from your own, but it usually leads to disaster.

-When you have history, you have ghosts. If you’re returning to an old collaboration, begin at the beginning. No evocation of old problems and old solutions.

Check out this clip from Tharp’s collaboration with Frank Sinatra, Nine Sinatra Songs, performed by the North Carolina Dance Theatre.