Since its inception in 1954, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has performed in hundreds of cities and towns around the world. What they do needs no translation, no matter where they go.
“It’s all about the language of the body,” said dance company general manager John Tomlinson. “Everyone gets it.”
The New York City-based dance company, founded by legendary dancer/choreographer Paul Taylor, continues to thrive and tour well into its sixth decade. Taylor continues to create works for his 16-member company as well as the six-member adjunct company, Taylor 2.
One of the missions of the Paul Taylor Dance Company is to spread the art of dance far and wide. The company is on the road about 26 weeks out of the year total.
“The dances we’re performing showcase a variety of dance styles and themes,” said Tomlinson. “Paul’s dances achieve a balance that makes them not only enjoyable to watch but personally and culturally meaningful as well.”
Revered as a pioneer of modern dance, Taylor is as skilled at choreographing across a variety of dance styles as he is at developing new forms of his own. His dances have been applauded for their cultural relevancy, artistic beauty and physical grace.
Taylor, 78, is still creating dance and running the company he founded more than 50 years ago. When he first started presenting his cutting-edge work, those who attended those early performances didn’t quite know what to make of them. Taylor is now considered the grand old man of modern dance and continues to be a highly sought-after choreographer.
Taylor formed his own troupe in 1954 after performing in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. Acclaimed dancers and choreographers who emerged from his company include David Parsons, Twyla Tharp, Laura Dean, Dan Wagoner, Christopher Gillis and Senta Driver.
“I make dances because it briefly frees me from coping with the real world, because it’s possible to build a whole new universe with steps, because I want people to know about themselves,” Taylor wrote in his essay, “Why I Make Dances.”
His autobiography, “Private Domain,” was published in 1987, and he was also the subject of the documentary film “DanceMaker,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999.
Taylor has achieved countless accolades, including the Kennedy Center Honors, one of the nation’s highest artistic distinctions, and the National Medal of Arts, which is presented by Congress to honor artists and patrons of the arts.
The touring, while challenging for the dancers, is vital to Taylor’s vision.
“He made it his mission very early to bring dance to as many people as possible through the world,” said Tomlinson. “It’s one of the fundamental reasons for our existence.”
However, that goal has been more difficult to achieve in recent years.
Tomlinson notes that during the 1970s and ’80s, touring was a way to make money. Now, touring is a major expense for the company. Fortunately, it continues to be covered through generous donations and support from private individuals and corporate sponsors.
To date, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has performed in more than 520 cities and 62 countries around the world, bringing their art to many people who might never have the opportunity to see modern dance.
Personal interview with John Tomlinson, October 2008