At 80, Paul Taylor is one of, if not the only, master choreographer from the birth of modern dance who is still alive and creating. He danced in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham (who dubbed him the “naughty boy” of dance), and George Balanchine, absorbing styles and techniques as he went. By the time he set up his own company in 1954, Taylor had a style, a way of moving. But most writers agree that when Taylor retired from dancing in 1974, his choreography went from good to great, as his company, his family, became a group of mini-Taylors. A towering presence himself, his male dancers tend to be larger than average.
“You can do the steps, but there’s a way that he moves that you have to learn,” says Robert Kleinendorst, one of the current company’s senior dancers. “He likes everything to originate from the hips, the back and the center. There’s a lot of twisting. The arms are secondary.”