The award presented to the director-choreographer for her entire body of work "recognizes her outstanding artistic accomplishments, including her critically and popularly acclaimed Broadway musical Movin' Out, which deals with the legacy of the Vietnam War," according to a release. Tharp will be on hand to accept the honor.
"Vietnam Veterans of America is pleased to recognize the work of Twyla Tharp," said VVA President Thomas H. Corey in a statement. "We have presented arts awards since 1987 and are proud that VVA... recognizes contributions to American culture by Vietnam veterans and by others whose work is influenced by the Vietnam War and its veterans."
Tharp has created dances for the American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, the New York City Ballet and the Martha Graham Dance Company among others. Her work has been seen on film ("Hair," "White Nights" and "Amadeus"), television (Emmy Award winner for "Great Performances: Dance in America") and theatre (Movin' Out, Singin' in the Rain).
The bookless Movin' Out, currently residing at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre and touring the nation, uses Joel's song lyrics and Tharp's choreography to tell the story of five friends and lovers across three decades through love, war and loss. There is no dialogue and all songs are performed by the pianist-singer, who sings non-stop and heads an on-stage band during the show.
Following a tryout at Chicago's Shubert Theatre, the show began previews on Broadway Sept. 30, 2002 and opened Oct. 24, 2002. The show took home the Tony Awards for Best Choreography (Tharp) and Orchestrations (Joel and Stuart Malina). The songlist includes many of Joel's hit songs and even interpolates some of his classical work. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" functions as a sort of overture, introducing the characters. The story kicks off with "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and moves through other songs as the popular "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Big Shot," "Uptown Girl" and "Captain Jack," as well as more obscure early work like "James," "Summer, Highland Falls," and "Angry Young Man."