I wish I had the words to describe Paul Taylor. I
wish I could summarize his life in just a few short sentences. I wish that I
could tell you of all the great work he has done, all the people he has
touched, all the lives he has changed by writing a short, informational blog;
but alas, even the synonyms feature on my computer cannot come up with the
right combination of words to create a tribute to Taylor's career.
If you do not know who Paul Taylor is, prepare to
be impressed. This man, this choreographer, this dancer, has been one of the
most influential people in the dance world for many years. And I now realize,
the only way to tell you about him, is to show you. The timeline below
highlights his greatest moments, his most influential work, and, well, his many
years of ecstasy.
1930: Paul Belville Taylor was born July 29, 1930 in Allegheny,
PA; son of Paul B. (a physicist) and Elizabeth (Rust) Taylor and grew up
in and around Washington, D.C. At this point, Taylor was just a small child;
people applauded his first steps and spelling tests. No one yet knew the talent
that would come from this infant.
1940s: Before he
was the greatest force in modern dance, he was a swimmer and student of
painting at Syracuse University. However, when he shook hands with the art form
of dance, he never looked back and began studying dance at Juilliard. Impressed
1950s: Taylor began creating work
that was so cutting-edge, it sent perplexed audience members flocking to the
exits! After that, it was only appropriate that Martha Graham, the "Picasso of
modern dance," dubbed Taylor the "naughty boy" of dance.
1950s: Talk about the fabulous
fifties! In just ten years, Taylor joined the Martha Graham Dance Company for
the first of seven seasons as soloist while continuing to choreograph for his
own troupe. And, as a guest artist, Taylor danced with New York City Ballet!
1960s: The Paul Taylor Dance
Company made its first international tour! The company has since performed in
more than 520 cities in 62 countries. (And to think, I have only been to
1970s: Taylor put incest center
stage and revealed the beast lurking just below humans' sophisticated veneer in
Cloven Kingdom (1976) - not many can
say they've put such controversial topics on stage and lived to tell the tale,
let alone be praised for it.
1974: Taylor retired as a
performer. Instead of living in his bathrobe (as some retirees do) he then devoted
himself fully to choreography and kept cranking out masterpieces such as, (deep
breath)... Esplanade, Cloven
Kingdom, Dust, Airs, Mercuric
Tidings, Le Sacre du
Printemps (The Rehearsal), Arden Court, Last Look, Musical Offering, Syzygy, Speaking in Tongues, Company B, Eventide, Piazzolla Caldera, Promethean
Fire, Banquet of
Vultures, and Beloved Renegade.
2000: In the first decade of the
new millennium, Taylor had condemned American imperialism, poked fun at
feminism, and looked death square in the face. And yet, Taylor had also made
some of the most purely romantic, most astonishingly athletic, and downright
funniest dances ever put on stage!
2009: So far Taylor has checked
off swimmer, painter, dancer, and choreographer from his list. But now, he can
also check off poet. His poignant looks at soldiers in battle, and those they leave behind, in Company B, caused The New York Times
to say that he "ranks among the great war poets."
2010: Today, Taylor is the last
living member of the pantheon that created America's indigenous art form,
modern dance. Taylor remains among the most sought-after choreographers working
today, commissioned by ballet companies and presenting organizations the world
-Marketing Intern and U of M Student