Paul Taylor: The Dance Maker

A Note about Paul Taylor,The Dance Maker: Free Write

Paul Taylor is noted for his definitive choreography in Western Civilization. He creates key concepts and themes by utilizing emotions. These gestures are taken from parts of Taylor’s experiences through life as they are used in clean and concise moving images. The improvisation skills he possesses provide an unpredictable He incorporates pedestrian movements alongside rigorous, athletic motions in dance to express his theories of movement and style.

The choreographer is the most essential part of a modern dance company. The film suggests that everything stems from the choreographer and without a sense of competition between

companies, compositions would lack resilience. The sheer artistry is what makes a company unique and different.

Martha Graham, one of the most foremost pioneers of modern dance, placed Taylor in her dance company with great anticipation of his talents. Once he strayed away from the company in order to pursue his dreams of choreography,

Taylor rebelled against his training and past Graham performance experiences. There is a distinct difference in style, costuming and personal philosophy. At one point he uses costumes

as a medium to portray a feeling, emotion to the piece. Taylor defies Graham’s revolt against the covering of a performer’s face. He ran from her influence as a means of development and ascension to a heightened level of artistry.

Taylor is a leader in this world’s choreography and composition.  His “on the spot” approach to improvisation in dance sets him apart from most other choreographers.  Another important element to his originality in composition is the genuine, likeness in his personality. These emotions translate through his dancers and transcend past the the pieces he creates. All of the prior articles make up his sense of leadership in a world full of talented choreographers.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in "Esplanade"

Individuality is the perfect term for Paul Taylor’s outlook on choreography. He uses an avante-garde style in his original compositions to spark certain emotions and feelings. He is able to create a powerful statement piece by zeroing in on his likes and dislikes in a rehearsal or performance atmosphere. Taylor presents an acute focus on contagions and layers the dancer’s phrases within each piece. He lets intuition lead his dances with strong intent and creative dynamics. It is fascinating to watch his thought process as a developed and experienced choreographer in today’s competitive dance world.

Many of Taylor’s dancers thought of him as a father figure, someone to truly admire and look up to. He would act

casually with them by joking and relaying thoughts or ideas. There is an understanding between the company dancers and director. The agreement to perform to the best of their abilities is just as important as the promise to maintain the work based relationships. The company moves as one cohesive team because of constructive criticisms and honesty from Taylor.

Every one of Paul Taylor’s dancers have respect for his ideas and choreography.  They are expected to dance as well as they can for him and to give all of their attention to the task at hand. His responsibility to his dancers is to work their strengths and but their weaknesses on the back burner. By doing so he is able to maintain a confidence throughout the company. The dancers are to push themselves, practice hard, come prepared to work, have a willingness to play and realize their position as dancers. He clearly stated they just need to “Dance, dance, dance.”

Choreography is a direct representation of a social event. By utilizing improvisation to communicate with his dancers, Taylor creates a relaxed and forgiving atmosphere.  The group of dancers trust each other and allow each other to see their most vulnerable sides, both in an emotion and physical way. Partnering is an essential social interaction in choreography. The dancers have to play off of each other’s emotions in order to reach a common level of understanding.

Paul Taylor is a firm believer in experimentation and improvisation in choreography.  He pulls inspiration from many

forms of stimuli. On his walk to the dance studio he notices all of the interesting and at times unnoticed concrete imprints, trash cans and sounds of the busy city. All of these forms of stimuli lend themselves to inspiration for choreography. He moves freely in rehearsal without any inhibitions or preset movements. This is a key part of Taylor’s choreographic process that has been utilized for many years.

At the very beginning of the film Taylor talks about a record he found one day on his walk to the studio. It was an Anders Sisters album in a nearby trash can. He said that he was moved by this image and used it as an outlet for one of his dances. He later laughed about the insignificant purpose of the story and admitted it as a witty joke he told to some journalists.

Fear is one element of dance that is often unwarranted and generally sparse.  Taylor uses fear as a motivator. He molds it into a positive idea by encouraging vulnerability to overcome bumps or ruts in the choreographic process. This emotion could be a road block to ideas in choreography, but he finds new ways to force himself into the studio to overcome and create. Some of his best works have sprouted from the anxieties of failure and have stayed close to his heart. By putting forth his weaknesses and susceptibility to fear, Taylor has surpassed the norm of defeat by his phobia. He has configured a creative way to transform this negative energy into a useful source motivation.

Taylor eases his dancers into choreography by utilizing play first. He feeds off of the company dancers as they give their energy to him. Music plays a large role in inspiration but, can at times overwhelm the dance and movements. Taylor has sought to create based on his own emotions and interpretations through music but does not let it hinder or harrow his main intention. He arrives to rehearsal with a list of numbers on starched paper, these are important accents that provide dynamics to the dance. He comes with no motions prepared, only numbers. Taylor specifically mentioned in the film that the dance comes after play. This is a wonderful philosophy to take into consideration. Many choreographers could benefit from this statement and elevate their thoughts to a new level of meaning.
Esplanade was choreographed in 1975 by Paul Taylor and is performed as standard repertory with his company to this day. The piece resembles a family portrait with a theme of abandonment. A recurrent gesture found within the dance is the idea of reaching out to another dancer or thought and the sense of never touching. The longing feeling is accomplished by this stretching motion and is conveyed to audience by the dancers. There are very circular movements in this dance with a fall and release of the body in several positions. The use of repetition is quite effective to the piece in its entirety. It allows the audience to focus on the simplicity and purity of each moment within the piece. Cannons, partnering and direction changes provide dynamics and change the energy of the composition. Every dancer has a sense of urgency, an intention behind their movements. Taylor showcases his story through his dancers in a profound and beautiful way in Esplanade.

After watching this feature film about Paul Taylor I can absolutely take some of his concepts into consideration while composing choreography. His use of fear will always remain fresh in my mind. His outlook on turning it into a powerful motivator and positive energy will resonate with me for years to come. Many of his philosophies including his dancer director relationships are useful to all. You get what you give. It is as simple as that. I appreciate all of his wise words and usage of improvisation. These elements are so very important to rising as a choreographer and development as a dancer.

I have always appreciated the sheer honesty in contemporary modern dance and have adopted it as my central focus and style. It allows me to feel emotions through movement and also helps me to find a way to translate it to choreography. I have learned to play with improvisation as a motivator by provoking inspiration. There are many organic qualities to my movements as I am able to incorporate emotions to a specific piece for simplicity. My phrases are usually short and to the point. They do not contain many elements of codified technique. I love finding intricacies in transitions as well as the use of cannons to create variety and color to whatever composition I am working on.

It is fair to say I am an active choreographer, dreaming up new outlets of motion every day. It is is easy to be inspired by my surroundings, and especially when writing. I am the kind of dancer that looks to other forms of art for inspiration. It would be absolutely amazing to be on a similar level as Twyla Tharp; using choreography for all creation and inspiring dancers with spontaneity and sprite. I struggle with fear at times but find my movements and actions move with a more confident stride. My compositions are living and breathing creations. They are the most pure representation.

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