Announcer: This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.
Now we stride.
We don't... Man, voice-over: A lesson from Twyla Tharp in allowing our bodies to take up space, even as we grow older, what she refers to as amplitude.
Amplitude, moving out, constantly feeling that you can move out.
As age becomes reality, I think we start to retreat, we retract, we become protective, we become secluded, and we begin to ossify.
But that's the body becoming smaller.
In a way, it is becoming smaller.
Well, that's its problem.
Let's just get on with it, shall we?
♪ Amna Nawaz: Hi, everyone.
This is "Beyond the Canvas" from the "PBS Newshour."
I'm Amna Nawaz.
Tonight, we meet artists who have been recognized at the highest level in their field.
We call them the greats.
You'll hear from renowned conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Gustavo Dudamel, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, filmmaker Sir David Attenborough, and just now, dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.
Through these conversations, you'll see how passion is the engine that drives their work.
The people you're about to meet were first featured on the "PBS Newshour" before the pandemic, but tonight, you'll meet them on a new canvas, and maybe see them and their work through a different lens, right here on "Beyond the Canvas."
Now back to this profile on one of the great choreographers of our age--Twyla Tharp.
"Newshour's" chief correspondent for arts, culture, and society Jeffrey Brown spoke to her at the American Ballet Theatre in 2019.
Then 78, Tharp had just released her book called "Keep it Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life."
Tharp: I wrote this to help others believe that constantly you can be evolving, that you don't accept the rumor that as the body ages, it becomes less.
It becomes different.
So, do you think of this as a self-help book?
I look at it as a self-survival book.
Brown, voice-over: As a girl, Tharp took dance and music lessons of all kinds.
In the 1960s, she was dancing and choreographing as part of an important experimental modern dance scene.
And by the seventies, she was creating groundbreaking works like "Deuce Coupe" for the Joffrey Ballet.
Set to music by the Beach Boys, it brought together elements of both ballet and modern dance.
She made "Push Comes to Shove" for Mikhail Baryshnikov, part of an acclaimed partnership that included the award-winning PBS special "Baryshnikov by Tharp" in 1984.
[Applause] Dance after dance, combining rigor and boundless energy.
She also choreographed films, including "Hair" and "Amadeus"... [Opera music playing] and conceived and directed the Broadway hit "Movin' Out" to the music of Billy Joel.
[Rock music playing] In her new book, she provides a series of exercises and says age is not the enemy, stagnation is the enemy.
Tharp: We all have that laid on us by our culture.
Being squirmy is not really-- you can't do this at dinner parties, but this is how you keep your system, your metabolic system, rolling, by doing-- you don't do it like this.
I mean, you can't-- [indistinct]-- you can't do this even in the way we're talking, but you want me to.
You want us to.
Yeah, because if you keep doing this, chances are your body is going to be more productive in the moment and you'll have something left in the evening, particularly as you become older and you buy into this reality that older folks can do less.
Uh, OK, prove it.
Brown, voice-over: Her own physical regime is legendary.
We watched an early-morning workout at her home studio.
Breathing and stretching, cycling, and various kinds of strength and resistance exercises.
Tharp: I could bench my body weight for 3 and I deadlifted 227 pounds to waist, which was twice my body weight, OK?
So--but I developed a core strength that the classical dancer doesn't have.
Now in making a piece of this sort for a classical dancer, I can bring that kind of physical intelligence to them and say, "Try it this way."
You've had, of course, great success, but you've also experienced failure.
Yes, I-- Are you kidding?
I'm sorry to tell you.
But you advise us in the book, you know, to accept those failures, right, to take risks.
They're not failures.
What are they?
They're adventures of a different sort.
You may not have gotten what you set out to get, but there is something to be learned from everything.
There was a profile in the "Times."
It says--I'm quoting-- "Ms. Tharp remains among the very few female choreographers..." Oh, please.
Give me a [beep] break.
"To have had a lasting influence on ballet."
Why don't they say one of the few short choreographers to have an influence on the ballet?
The female nomenclature is highly abusive, it's ghettoizing, uh, and it's irrelevant to what I've done.
You don't want to hear it at all.
I'm not interested.
I'm a worker.
I'm an artist.
I make dances.
End of story.
Judge me with the best.
Don't judge me with the best women.
In the meantime, the final piece of advice that you give all of us in this book is "shut up and dance."
Shut up and do what you love and, you know, be grateful and keep doing it and stop second-guessing it.
"I'm getting old.
I can't do what I love."
[Beep], in a word.
[Chuckles] It's gonna change, that's all.
It's not gonna be the same.
It's gonna be different.
Just like Tharp, Michael Tilson Thomas has spent his entire life doing what he loves.
Tilson Thomas is one of the great musicians of his generation.
In 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, he stepped down as music director and conductor of the San Francisco Symphony.
Jeffrey Brown is back with this profile of a maestro forced to find another mission.
[Classical music playing] Brown, voice-over: In March, Tilson Thomas was ending a 25-year run as conductor and music director of the San Francisco Symphony when the COVID shutdown began.
[Record scratch] Tilson Thomas: It was a shock.
Kind of numbing at first.
Right in the middle of a rehearsal, day before we would start to tour to Carnegie Hall and Europe, say, "Well, guess what?
It's not happening" or "Some of it's not happening," and then gradually, more and more of the tour wasn't happening, and then the end of the year wasn't happening.
Brown, voice-over: The planned celebration of his tenure-- cancelled.
Life and art interrupted by the reality of a deadly disease.
So, we came to the strange situation where metabolic beings, as we musicians are, it wasn't that "get up in the morning, "go to rehearsal, practice, get home, "get a rest, and then "go out and rev your metabolism up "to its highest at around 10:30 at night, "then go home and put yourself to sleep and then do it the next day."
That's the way we live, and suddenly, that was all gone.
[Playing upbeat tune] Brown, voice-over: Instead, MTT, as he's known, is using his time to lean into his craft as musician, composer, and mentor.
Tilson Thomas was born in Los Angeles into an artistic family.
His grandparents were Yiddish theater stars.
His father and mother both worked in the film industry.
[Playing slow tune] By 19, he was working with and conducting premieres by great composers like Stravinsky and Copland.
His big break came with the Boston Symphony, then London, and finally in 1995, San Francisco.
[Classical music playing] In 1987, he founded Miami's New World Symphony.
The goal-- an orchestral academy, to prepare young musicians for professional careers, a bridge between conservatory training and a player's first orchestral gig.
[Violin playing] These days, he works remotely with symphony musicians like Georgia native Chelsea Sharpe.
You sound in absolutely great shape.
What have you seen in the young musicians you work with?
How are they coping?
How are they dealing with this year?
All the plans that they had, the auditions they were set to take, the new positions they were about to begin.
The most creative time of their lives had to stop, so they had to look around and think, "How can I reinvent myself?
"What else is there for me to do?
"How can I come out of this period being the best that I can be to go forward?"
Here you are, wanting to be in front of people, trying to get your-- start a career and make a life as a musician.
How hard has it been and how have you coped with it?
We finally had time to sort of reflect and personally speaking, I was grateful for that time to just sit with the instrument and, you know, maybe think about some things technically that I hadn't had the luxury of time to kind of think about before.
Brown, voice-over: A luxury Tilson Thomas believes they all need.
Normally, musicians are worried about what is going to happen this weekend?
The next concert, and the next and the next and the next.
And now we're in this period where we need to turn our attention just to how are we slowly developing as musicians, as artists, and as people?
♪ Bom, ba-beem, ♪ ba-bom, da-da-dum ♪ Brown, voice-over: That's just what Los Angeles native Corbin Castro has managed, creating an online music academy for children age 8 to 12... Castro: This is not necessarily the kind of French horn that we're associating with Tchaikovsky.
Brown, voice-over: Developed without prior connection to any youth music programs, and it's all virtual.
It became very apparent to us the possibility that this program had to reach underresourced students and provide technical training and super-personalized mentorship in order to show them how classical music can have a positive influence not just on their lives but also the lives of the people in their communities.
Brown: Is this all pandemic-related, to start thinking this way in different terms about yourself as a musician and part of the community?
It kind of combined all the best parts of what music can offer and how music can enrich lives.
Brown, voice-over: Violist Stephanie Block agrees.
It's the courage to take on something that challenges you as a player.
And then it's the courage to kind of bare your soul again and give yourself to whoever needs it.
What future do you see for classical music, especially given the young people that you're working with?
Well, all the young people I'm working with have a real commitment to sharing their music and their vision with people younger than they are, and as a real life commitment, have taken on the role as teacher in a very expanded way, not just in a studio, but over the internet, in communities.
They're much more dedicated to it and I think the new ways that they're going about this will bring great new things.
[Upbeat tune playing] For Gustavo Dudamel, a moment of revelation came when he decided to devote his life to changing the image of orchestras in today's culture.
Dudamel is one of the world's most celebrated classical musicians, and as the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he's worked tirelessly to make music accessible to all, including students in underserved communities.
Jeffrey Brown learned why Dudamel sees art as access to beauty.
Brown: At the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a public school in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park, the star of the show recently was L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
He was there to open a new site for YOLA, the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, a program to offer free, high-quality music lessons and support to students in underserved communities.
Dudamel: When I see them, I'm one of them.
I go back-- You feel that still?
[Serene classical music playing] Brown: By now, Dudamel's own story is the stuff of legend... [Rousing orchestral music] coming up through Venezuela's famed El Sistema program, created in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, which has brought music lessons and orchestra training to hundreds of thousands of children, many from poor backgrounds.
As a teenager, Dudamel became conductor of the program's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, and today, he's one of the most celebrated classical musicians in the world.
[Light classical music playing] Ten years into his time as conductor in a city of stars, his image is everywhere, and he remains committed to changing the image of orchestras in today's culture.
Dudamel: I think it's a representation of the community, the orchestra.
We have to avoid that-- I don't know how to call, but eltist way as we see art.
We are--elitist, yes.
You know that--that-- you know, we are in a mountain here, and the rest of the people is there.
It's not about art.
But a lot of people do see it that way, especially classical music.
But we are transforming that.
When the people see that they are represented by the best art, by the best culture, it's the best, and that is what we want to create.
Brown: Music, Dudamel says over and over, is a fundamental human right.
Dudamel: It's a big idea about it's simple and it's very objective because art is creativity, art--art is access to beauty.
And what our children, in our times, they're not having access to that, you know.
We live a very pragmatical world, where, you know, you have to produce, you have to do this, you have to learn in that way.
But where is the space to contemplation, to creativity, to work as a team, you know, to create beauty?
[Orchestra playing festive tune] Brown: We visited YOLA at HOLA, an afterschool program where children 6 and up have access to instruments, lessons, and orchestra practice [Playing haltingly] Brown: Occasionally, the mentoring here is peer-to-peer.
Girl: You're also pressing your, um, bow too hard.
Brown: Two young cellists-- 16-year-old Zenaida Aparicio and 14-year-old Mary Ellie Flores-- attend nearby schools.
Did you have the opportunity to play music in school?
The only opportunity I had was here.
Brown: Did you get to meet Gustavo Dudamel?
Flores: It's pretty exciting, so many feelings just at once.
He's a big person in our life.
Brown: As Dudamel is moving forward in Los Angeles, his homeland of Venezuela is another story... Venezuela!
Brown: after years of political, economic, and humanitarian crisis.
[Pop] El Sistema is a government-funded program, and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra regularly performs at government functions.
After Dudamel did write a "New York Times" op-ed last year critical of the government, Maduro responded by canceling two tours of the Bolívar Orchestra.
Dudamel: You have to understand your position and your role in the society, and I really believe that you can create bridges.
For me, music have to unite.
If you get from one side to the other, then you destroy that possibility... Mm-hmm.
to build, you know, a communication.
[Orchestra playing softly] Brown: Here in Los Angeles in the meantime, the focus is on playing beautiful music... [Woman singing in Spanish] Brown: and reaching more young people.
Dudamel: Every child have access to music and to art.
That is the dream.
That is my dream, you know, to embrace the world with art, and it's not naive.
It's simple, but... [Children's orchestra playing] that is the most beautiful thing.
For Lynsey Addario, beauty comes from being present during life's most intimate and intense moments.
As a photojournalist, Addario's covered conflict around the globe, and her work has won her a Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy Award, and a MacArthur Genius Fellowship.
In 2016, she offered this "Brief but Spectacular" take on all the risk involved in documenting beauty and conflict.
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
That's a classic Robert Capa quote.
He was a very famous war photographer.
And it's the truth.
We cannot do our jobs from further back.
And I have to care.
I have to bring myself emotionally closer to the subject.
I believe in these stories.
I believe they have to be told.
And so I force myself to go to these places.
It's not an adrenaline rush, and it's not an addiction.
I have been kidnapped twice-- once in Garma, which is a village outside of Fallujah, by Sunni insurgents, and once in Libya.
I was sure we were about to die.
And all I can think about is, "Really?
Is this where I'm going to see the end of my life?"
"What am I doing here?
Why is it so important for me to be here?"
And I have to ask myself those questions, because a big part of this job is knowing that we might die at any given time.
People always ask, like, "Are you stoic when you're shooting?"
And I am anything but stoic.
When I'm watching someone die, I become very overwhelmed with emotion, and I'm crying as I'm shooting.
I think it would be really strange if I didn't cry when I saw the things I see, because I see some of the most horrific things and some of the most beautiful things.
Being a war photographer comes with great sacrifice.
It's almost impossible to have a personal life.
The amount of psychological and physical trauma that each one of us carries with us from covering war over many, many years is extraordinary.
When I first started doing this job, I had a really hard time reconciling the fact that life went on outside of these war zones, and I would come back to New York, and everyone was at a bar and getting drunk and having fun.
And I was so confused.
I don't understand why no one cares and people aren't out on the street protesting.
I had to make a decision at some point that if I was going to lead this life, I had to not leave behind the things I've seen, but be present.
When I go home to be with my family and my husband and my son, I have to be there for them.
I was so frustrated by people being so dismissive of the deeper reasons why anyone would cover war.
It's about educating people, policy-makers, talking about human rights abuses.
Once a photographer starts seeing the impact of his or her work, it's impossible to turn away.
I mean, it's impossible to stop doing it.
My name is Lynsey Addario, and this is my "Brief but Spectacular" take on life as a photojournalist.
Another genius behind the lens is filmmaker Sir David Attenborough.
Like Addario, he prides himself on how close he can get, in this case, to the natural world.
My "NewsHour" colleague William Brangham spoke to this great about documenting the current crisis facing humanity.
Sir David Attenborough: The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel.
William Brangham: No one has given us a more intimate or stunning look at our planet than Sir David Attenborough.
But now, after a near 70-year career, he says we are running the planet headlong into disaster.
In his new Netflix documentary and companion book, both titled "A Life on Our Planet," the famed filmmaker wants us to recognize what's happening, and to act before it's too late.
As you say in the film and in the book that when you were a young man, going to all these exotic places, you had the sense at the time that man's imprint was not being felt.
Attenborough: I mean, you can go to a glacier that you were there maybe five, 10 years ago, and it has retreated, but you think, "Oh, well.
"That's just this glacier.
Maybe there's another one that's increasing."
But there are some things that are irrevocable and so dramatic and distressing that you can't brush them away.
The one, I suppose, was the tipping point was when I dived on the coral reef, which I have known perfectly well-- on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia--and suddenly saw a cemetery, and, suddenly, it was dead.
And these corals, this extraordinary, wonderful construction of corals was dead--white.
And that was a shock.
In the past, you would often talk about man's impact on the world, but would move on, in a sense.
This film, you really clearly seem to say: "We are not moving on.
I cannot stress this point strong enough."
Well, you put it very well.
That is exactly what I feel.
And all I know is that, if you see these things and realize what they mean, you simply can't sit back and say, "Well, I'm not going to bother."
Brangham, voice-over: Attenborough argues for a rapid shift to renewable energy to sustainable agriculture, for a slowing of population growth, and for what he calls a rewilding of the land and the oceans to give them time to rebound.
Brangham: How confident are you that we will, in fact, move from these isolated examples to a true moment for change?
I'm not in the least confident that we will do so in time.
And I certainly feel, although the situation is worse, I believe that the world is becoming more aware of what needs to be done to a much greater extent than only, say, five, 10 years ago.
It does seem to me a worldwide realization of the crisis which we are facing.
And it's been spearheaded, of course, by young people, and quite rightly, too.
It's their future.
The kids of today are-- that's their life, you know?
And we owe it to them to do everything we can to make sure that disaster's averted.
Brangham: When we talk about sixth extinction or global climate change, it's still very easy for so many people to put this view out of their minds and just keep on.
But, actually, in your country, it's more unlikely for that to happen than in mine.
I mean, you have faced disaster after disaster.
You have got rising sea levels.
You had cyclones, hurricanes moving through with greater ferocity and frequency than ever before.
We see on our television newsreel coverage of appalling things that happen in your country because of climate change, seem to me overwhelming.
And it's nice to say, "Oh, it's nothing.
It's just a passing phase."
It isn't, and the statistics show it isn't.
It is a major movement that's happening.
And your country and my country and the rest of the world have got to do something about it.
And we can.
And we know what to do.
Sir David Attenborough, thank you so much for talking with us, and thank you for your remarkable career.
Thank you so much.
Attenborough, along with the others featured in this episode, are truly remarkable.
Their vision, passion, and drive have propelled them to excellence.
And for that, we are grateful.
Join the conversation on our website.
That's PBS.org/Newshour/Canvas and find more "Canvas" arts stories on the "PBS Newshour."
I'm Amna Nawaz.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thanks for joining me here on "Beyond the Canvas."
We'll see you soon.
Nawaz: Next time on "Beyond the Canvas," singer and songwriter Dolly Parton.
I think I take myself more serious as a songwriter than anything else.
That's just been the thing that I've seemed to enjoy the most because it's my therapy, it's my pleasure, it's my job, it's my joy.
Nawaz: One of the extraordinary women we focus on next.
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