watch Friday, June 7th, 2013
Paul Taylor is the last living pioneer of America’s modern dance. Learning under the likes of Martha Graham, Taylor creates extraordinary modern works of art through dance. At an age many would say is “past his prime,” Taylor continues to create masterpieces that tackle society’s toughest issues (sexuality, spirituality, war, etc.). All the while, he runs the company like a family and understands not only the movement, but the soul of each of his dancers – although they deal with tough situations, they have the support of one another as well as Taylor to get them through each dance. Taylor challenges his dancers not only mentally but physically, with the athleticism in his choreography.
Nothing about Taylor’s work is “conventional.” After creating his first dance in 1954, he began to shock audiences. “In the 1950s, when his work was so cutting-edge that it could send confused audience members flocking to the exits….In the ’60s he shocked the cognoscenti by setting his trailblazing movement to music composed 200 years earlier, and inflamed the establishment by lampooning America’s most treasured icons. In the ’70s he put incest center stage and revealed the beast lurking just below humans’ sophisticated veneer. In the ’80s he looked unflinchingly at marital rape and intimacy among men at war. In the ’90s he warned against religious zealotry and blind conformity to authority. In the first decade of the new millennium he has condemned American imperialism, poked fun at feminism and looked death square in the face” (http://www.ptdc.org/artists-dances/paul-taylor). And amongst all this controversy, Taylor continues to find humor in his work as well. Some of his best pieces are his funniest.
Taylor is also conscious of taking dance to the world. Not only does he perform in his company’s hometown of New York City, but he takes Taylor 2, his second company, all over the world to perform to those less fortunate who may not be exposed to such great art.
Taylor has now created 135 pieces performed by his 16 member company and 6 member Taylor 2. Taylor has set his pieces to every type of sound including silence; barbershop quartets, ragtime, reggae, rock n’ roll, even sound effects such as a hailing loon. “While he has covered a breathtaking range of topics, recurring themes have included the natural world and man’s place within it; love and sexuality in every gender combination; life, death and what may follow; and iconic moments in the history of the nation” (http://www.ptdc.org/artists-dances/paul-taylor).