Joan Tewkesbury began her career at age ten as a dancer in The Unfinished Dance with Margaret O'Brien and Cyd Charisse. She was an Ostrich and Mary Martin's flying understudy in Jerome Robins’ Peter Pan, choreographed and danced in nightclubs in San Francisco and Reno, Nevada, and directed and choreographed for theatre in the U.S., Scotland and London. She has amassed credits as a writer, director, producer, and choreographer in feature film, theatre and television.
For Robert Altman, she wrote Thieves Like Us and scripted Altman’s classic Nashville. Tewkesbury's directorial first feature, Old Boyfriends, was presented at Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. For television, she wrote and directed award-winning films, Acorn People for NBC, The Tenth Month for CBS, Sudie and Simpson for Lifetime and TNT's Cold Sassy Tree, with Faye Dunaway and Richard Widmark. Other television writing and directing credits include Elysian Fields, a pilot for CBS, Windows for HBO, Wild Texas Wind starring Dolly Parton for NBC, On Promised Land for the Disney Channel and Scattering Dad for CBS. She has directed numerous hours of episodic television and was the consulting producer and director for The Guardian on CBS.
She has directed off-Broadway, co-choreographed and directed for the Oregon Ballet Theatre and performed, written and directed for The Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival. Her play The Retrospective was presented at the Manhattan Theatre Source.
Currently, she teaches a class she created, “Designed Obstacles, Spontaneous Response” throughout the United States, Israel, and Japan. Her first novel, Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time of Conflict and War, was published in 2011. At present, she is an advisor for the various Sundance Institute Labs, has written and performed “Car Talk” for Road Angel, an installation by Terry Allen, and has finally FINISHED her second novel.