Taylor photographed by Paul Palmaro
What choreographers inspire you? My list goes on forever, but Paul Taylor has always been at the top of it. Taylor started out dancing for pioneers like Martha Graham and later became a visionary craftsman, making more than 100 dances and winning numerous awards.
New Yorkers can catch the Paul Taylor Dance Company in action this month at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. Here are the top five reasons why Paul Taylor inspires me.
1. He keeps it fresh.
Taylor continues to create new experiences for both dancers and audiences, even though there's something uniquely “Taylor” about his movement style. You may recognize signature phrases in multiple dances, but they evoke different reactions and emotions in each one.
2. His dancers are amazing.
Every strong, beautiful, technically proficient Taylor dancer is hand-picked and home-grown. All of the company's members studied at The Taylor School or worked their way up through Taylor 2 before making it into the main troupe. From petite powerhouse Parisa Khobdeh to the mesmerizing Michael Trusnovec, each dancer represents a different part of Taylor, and together they make an impressive whole.
PTDC in "3 Epitaphs." Photo by Paul B. Goode.
3. He has a sense of humor.
I love a man who can make me laugh. In Offenbach Overtures, Taylor makes fun of the French court with choreography that still shows off his dancers’ technique. And though his 3 Epitaphs is set to music traditionally played at funerals in the South, you can’t help but laugh as his dancers—covered from head to toe in Robert Rauschenberg's mud-brown unitards—lope absurdly around the stage. (3 Epitaphs actually helped generate choreographic ideas for one of my own projects.)
4. He’s a Renaissance man.
Paul Taylor is also an author. His autobiography, Private Domain, was published in 1999, and he has just released a new book of essays, Facts and Fancies, which gives you a backstage pass into his quirky mind.
5. He knows it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Taylor will turn 83 in July, but earlier this month he unveiled his 138th dance! We tend to put an expiration date on dance careers, but Paul Taylor has demonstrated that age is just a number.
It's the end of an era: Legendary choreographer Trisha Brown has announced that she will no longer lead the Trisha Brown Dance Company, which she founded in 1970.
Now 76 years old, Brown has been suffering from health problems which have made it difficult for her to communicate. (Here's a testament to the power of art: Even though she was ailing, Brown was still choreographing as recently as 2011.)
The TBDC isn't going anywhere yet, though. It's putting together a three-year international farewell tour, and no end date for the troupe has been announced. There are also plans to create a Trisha Brown archive and website.
Though Brown is an iconic figure in the dance world, you may not be familiar with her work, unless you're into the modern/experimental scene. And that is a problem that needs to be fixed.
But rather than try to explain the sophisticated beauty of Brown's dances, I thought I'd show you a few.
Here's Brown herself, performing Accumulation in 1971. It looks like a memory game—one long, growing phrase, with a new movement added after each repetition:
Here's an excerpt from the haunting Glacial Decoy (1979), performed in silence, with a kaleidoscopic set designed by artist Robert Rauschenberg:
Here's Stephen Petronio (a well-known choreographer in his own right) performing Man Walking Down the Side of a Building (1970), one of Brown's famous gravity-defying works:
And here are five TBDC alumni—including Dance Magazine editor in chief Wendy Perron—performing the simple, perfect Spanish Dance (1793) at Brown's 75th birthday celebration: