Dance: Tharp Moves Out from Wingside

Her new ballets show a masterly range of choreographic skill

It may be the name Twyla—curious, fanciful, perhaps not quite grownup. Or it may be her stage image as a witchy little jazzbo with a boxer's shuffle and a baseball pitcher's kick. For nearly two decades Twyla Tharp has gone about the business of being a choreographer, methodically building a first-rate company and a large, acclaimed body of work. But her reputation, at least outside serious dance circles, has lacked weight. She handles certain material, such as social dancing, pop songs and pop-up emotions, better...

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