“I never had anybody in 12 years of doing this who gave me as hard a time [as you],” Tavis Smiley told dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp at the end of their 30-minute interview, which aired Friday. At 74, she’s a firecracker, man—and one who referred to Smiley as “man” about half a dozen times. Highlights are in this reel, man:
[There was a video here]
Things got off to an awkward start when Smiley asked Tharp if she was being “particularly modest” because she was on TV. “I’m always modest,” said Tharp. “I’m gonna have to pull you out of that, then, ‘cause I got 30 minutes to do this and need a little bit more from you than just your modesty,” said Smiley. Tharp responded by kind of yodeling. She asked if he was going to cut that part of the interview out. Smiley said no. And so he didn’t.
The interview was peppered with eccentricity from Tharp, who at one point during a discussion about artistic creation asked Smiley, “Have you ever been a mother?” She also had pointed words for Dancing With the Stars, on which Smiley appeared: “We won’t go into whether it’s really dancing or not, but anything that eliminates someone is not dancing.” She admonished him for asking a convoluted question.
After thanking Tharp for coming on the show while concluding the interview, Smiley asked, “How much longer before you wrap this...?” He was referring to her current 50th anniversary tour, but Tharp responded, “I’m outta here right now.” That’s when Smiley told her she gave him a hard time. She reasoned that he needed a hug and after their embrace, she hit him affectionately. And then she barked at him. This woman is incredible.
She also has a lot of smart things to say about dancing, artistry, and audience engagement. The full interview is here: