She puts certain iconic things in each box, for example blue index cards with her stated goals for the project. She tries to make these goals simple and clear, such as Tell a story or make dance pay for the dancers. For the show Movin' Out (for which she won a 2003 Tony), she included the first line of the Iliad, "Sing to me muse of the rage of Achilles." She adds copies of movies or music that inspire her, notebooks that she fills with thoughts about the show, even meaningful tchotchkes. "That's how a box is like soil to me. It's basic, earthy, elemental. It's home. It's what I can always go back to when I need to re-group and keep my bearings. Knowing that box is always there gives me the freedom to venture out, be bold, dare to fall flat on my face."
I'm not exactly Twyla Tharp (she just received the Kennedy Center lifetime achievement honor). But I grew up with the idea of her, and I've paid attention since age nine when I first learned her name. So in honor of her, I started a file box for this book I'm writing in public. Books are more paper-based than dances, so I put red hanging files in it, and manila file folders carefully labeled (using the Brother P-touch 1180 labeler) as I begin to grow the materials for this new book. I also included the first of what will probably be several file cards for goals, blue just like hers. Upon the first one I wrote clearly: Tell a story.