Tag Archives: Paul Taylor

Q&A: David Parsons, Parsons Dance

UGH! I am behind in posting some articles here. Parsons Dance was in town last weekend and they were simply amazing. You can find out more about the man behind the company, David Parsons, below. Even over the phone the man has a commanding presence.

David Parsons. Photo: Lois Greenfield
David Parsons. Photo: Lois Greenfield

The contemporary choreographer on his inspirations, his famous solo Caught, and performing for TITAS.

Dallas — David Parsons is no stranger to Dallas. In fact, his solo work Caught which uses strobe lights to create the illusion that the dancer is flying has been featured at the annual TITAS Command Performance twice in the last five years. It’s one of those pieces you never get tired of seeing which is great since it will be making its third appearance in Dallas this weekend as TITAS presents Parsons Dance at the Winspear Opera House. This company is known for its physical and visual prowess so you definitely don’t want to miss them.

Raised in Kansas City, Parsons moved to New York City at 17 to begin his dancing career. He joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1978 where he danced many leading roles in works such as Arden Court, Last Look andRoses. Parsons has also appeared as a guest artist with the Berlin Opera, MOMIX, New York City Ballet and the White Oak Dance Project. He founded Parsons Dance in 1985 with lighting designer Howell Binkley who went on to win a Tony Award for best lighting design of a musical for Jersey Boys in 2006. Parsons and Binkley are currently working on a new project together which they will premiere in Kansas City this June.

Over the last three decades Parsons Dance has toured 30 countries and five continents and has performed in world class venues, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Maison de la Danse, Teatro La Fenice and Teatro Muncipal. His works have also been performed by Batsheva Dance Company of Irsael, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Nederlands Dans Theatre and Paris Opera Ballet just to name a few. Parsons is also a recipient of the 2000 Dance Magazine Award, the 2001 American Choreography Award and the 2011 Dance Master of America Award.

Parsons Dance will be in Dallas at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House. The evening’s program includes Parsons’ Caught(1982) Bachiana (1993) and Whirlaway (2014) as well as pieces by Robert Battle, Trey McIntyre and Natalie Lomonte.

TheaterJones asks David Parsons about breaking into the world of contempororay dance, developing his choreographic voice and the creative process for his phenomenal work, Caught.

TheaterJones: How did you enter the realm of contemporary dance?

David Parsons: I started out as a gymnast and I specialized in trampoline. So you can see where Caughtcomes from. Basically my mom didn’t know what to do with me during the summer so she would put me in arts camp and that’s where I was introduced to contemporary dance. In my mind it was incredibly challenging because dance isn’t just about moving around. It’s colors, lights, choreography, costumes and business, and it was a huge revelation for me. Then I started learning technique and you find freedom in technique. I then saw the Paul Taylor Dance Company and I knew I wanted to be in that company. I actually went to New York because I received a scholarship from Alvin Ailey, but once I got into Paul’s studio and he said I could hang around and understudy I knew I wasn’t going to leave.

What did you discover about your artistic self while dancing with Paul Taylor?

Paul Taylor is a genius and he was a great teacher for me. His work is so profound and I was totally attracted to the physicality of his work. I mean that is dance and we do the same thing at Parsons. You can’t come into this company and not be able to do a mild sprint I can assure you. It was probably a year after I joined Paul’s company that I knew I wanted to be a choreographer. I had done trampoline routines and other choreographic ventures, but I knew I needed to learn about music and lighting design and so I studied Paul like a sponge. I would study the tools and structures he used in his choreography as well as his business model. The experience turned out to be Taylor University for me.

The Dallas program includes Caught (1982), Bachiana (1993) and Whirlaway (2014). Looking back at what point would you say you found your choreographic voice and how does your work reflect this?

I really found my voice when I made three pieces within two years. They were Caught; The Envelope, set to Rossini, which was a comedy; and Brothers, which was done to Stravinsky and looked at sibling rivalry. Those three pieces kind of set the pace for me because they were all so different. I am somebody who pushes to have a huge variety in my program. Brevity is important too. But for me it was really about making the audience feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster. Meaning that we would do humorous and dark works all in one evening. So it’s like your day. You wake up and throughout the day you’ll laugh or maybe cry or be sad. We really like to take the audience through an emotional, visual and physical roller coaster. We also communicate well with the audience. I like to touch things that we’ve all experienced like The Envelope for instance. It’s about an envelope and the performers just can’t get rid of it. It keeps coming back on stage. Then there’s Sleep Study which is done with only the movement of sleeping and then Caught which connects you with flying and that inner dream that we all have. Then there’s just beautiful pieces like Whirlaway which connects you to New Orleans. It takes you on an actual trip somewhere.

Caught is always a crowd pleaser wherever you go. Can you talk me through the process you went through to put this work together?

I created the solo at a very young age. When I first came to New York at age 17 I worked a lot of odd jobs including being a stunt model. And on these jobs I worked a lot with photography and that’s how I found out that Caught could be done. That there was a way for me to connect with people’s primitive need to fly. We all dream of flying and that’s the connection I was interested in. Again, when I make dances I’m interested in touching everybody in personal way. I look for those things that we all have in common. So, once I understood that I could catch myself in the air on a dark stage and take the same shape and move it around it’s really like looking at a live photo shoot all, of course, hovering over the ground. It really was just trial and error and fun to put together this journey of a man who starts in a room in conventional lightening preparing himself to fly and then he takes flight. This is a little contemporary gem that people love to see over and over again with different casts, sometimes it’s a woman, and it’s quite an astounding piece.

Eric Bourne in David Parsons' Caught. Photo: Angelo Redaelli
Eric Bourne in David Parsons’ Caught. Photo: Angelo Redaelli

From the get-go did you know you wanted to use strobe lights?

Yes, the whole piece was wrapped around me finding the idea of working with a strobe light like that. Some people say it’s a gimmick, but I say it’s a darn good one.

Do you have to adjust the timing of the strobe lights or the dancer based on the size of the venue you are using?

Yes, depending on the size of the stage the dancer does have to change his timing. I mean this is millisecond timing we are talking about here. We also do this piece outside and sometimes there is extraneous light like there was in Rome and I went around and put garbage bags over every lamp on this pedestrian walkway. In this instance you have to flash the strobe lights a little bit faster when there is ambient light so that the audience can’t see the dancer moving in between shots. On a totally dark stage we don’t have that problem. So, there are a lot of things we have to do for an outdoor venue compared to indoor venue compared to a small stage or an Opera house. It’s all constantly changing.

You and your lighting director, Howell Binkley, have known each other for more than 30 years. How did you two meet?

Howell was brought in as the lighting supervisor for Paul Taylor so we toured together and became buddies. And one time when we were sitting on a bench in France I told him I was thinking about starting a company once we got back to New York and he said he was right there with me. Now he is one of the major lighting designers on the planet. He did the lighting design for Jersey Boys and [Lin-Manuel Miranda’s] Hamilton. We are currently working on a piece that will premiere in Kansas City at the [Kauffman Center] this June.

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Q&A: Parisa Khobdeh, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Photo: Paul Taylor's Cloven Kingdom. Photo: Courtesy of PTDC
Photo: Paul Taylor’s Cloven Kingdom. Photo: Courtesy of PTDC

Dallas native Parisa Khobdeh shares what it means t be a Paul Taylor dancer, fostering her free and easy movement quality and the company’s upcoming performance at the Eisemann Center.

Richardson — It takes more than strong technique and individual virtuosity to make it as a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company. It also takes humility, authenticity and a natural self-awareness as company member Parisa Khobdeh has discovered over the past 12 years.

Born and raised in Plano, Khobdeh trained with Gilles Tanguay at Dance Consortium and Kathy Chamberlain at the Chamberlain School of Ballet. It was Chamberlain who encouraged her to audition for Southern Methodist University’s dance program where she got the opportunity to work with choreographers, including Robert Battle, Judith Jamison and Donald McKayle. Her path as a professional modern dancer wasn’t cemented until she attended the American Dance Festival (ADF) as a Tom Adams Scholar where she saw the Paul Taylor Dance Company perform Promethean Fire (2002). The first time she auditioned for the company she didn’t make it, but that didn’t deter her from her ultimate dream of becoming a Paul Taylor dancer. After attending a Taylor intensive in New York Khobdeh made it through her second audition and premiered with the company at ADF in summer 2003.

One of the last living pioneers of modern dance, Paul Taylor first presented his choreography with five other dancers in Manhattan in 1954. Over the last 60 years he has become a cultural icon thanks to his vivid imagination, all-encompassing intellect and quick eye for uncovering a person’s character, which continues to captivate audiences around the world. Formed in 1993, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has performed in more than 540 cities in 64 countries, representing the United States at arts festivals in more than 40 countries and touring extensively under the aegis of the U.S. Department of State.

The company returns to Dallas Feb. 7 for a one-night only performance at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX. The program includes the Dallas premiere of Diggity (1978), Beloved Renegade (2008) andCloven Kingdom (1976). There will also be a screening of the Paul Taylor documentary Creative Domain, presented by the Eisemann and the Arts Incubator of Richardson, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson. Tickets for that are $10.

TheaterJones asked Parisa Khobdeh about her training in Dallas, becoming a Paul Taylor dancer and having work set on her by the legend himself.

TheaterJones: You have been with the Paul Taylor Dance Company for more than 10 years. What is it about the man that instills such loyalty from his performers?

Parisa Khobdeh: I don’t see it as loyalty so much as it is a commitment to him and his work. We are really a family and look out for one another. Mr. Taylor has an eye for uncovering a person’s true character. He notices things that aren’t always apparent to the rest of us when he is auditioning people. He chooses not only really beautiful dancers, but also people with really great souls. And because of that you don’t see a lot of turnover among the dancers in the company. I joined the company at 22 and it has been a place that fosters artistry. There are a lot of revolving-door companies out there. They emphasize the technical virtuosity and not necessarily the depth of humanity, which is what Mr. Taylor’s work, embodies. His work reflects his physicality, beauty and well-structured physique. And then the dance itself is structured to show architecture through space and that is something that sets his work apart from others choreographers.

In a 2007 Dance Magazine article Mr. Taylor refers to the way you move as eye-popping. How does it feel to receive such a compliment from such an illustrious source in the modern dance world?

Oh gosh! I don’t really think about it to be honest. What I feel for Mr. Taylor is complete love and support. He has a beautiful soul and such a big heart. Every day we get the opportunity to work around a genius. So, back to your question I really don’t think about the things you just mentioned. This has definitely been a wonderful place for me to foster my artistry. Mr. Taylor really allows the dancer to speak and fulfill the role given to them. And I think that’s why his company attracts more mature dancers. It’s woven into the work, these subtleties of being human. He sees things a certain way and then shows you where to look and it’s really just been a wonderful place to expand and experience life for myself. To learn from him, watch him create and then to be created on is such an honor.

You are the focus of his works Lines of Loss (2007) and To Make Crops Grow (2012). What is the atmosphere like in the studio when the company is working with Mr. Taylor?

We are all very present when he is creating. Entering the studio Mr. Taylor already has the music broken-up and counted out; he has his notebook; and he knows what and how many dancers he is going to use, but he knows there is only so much you can plan. It’s now a matter of going into the studio and having the process and that’s when the energy between the dance maker and the dancer really comes to life. And you need that process and coming into the studio. You can’t just make a dance in your head in your house. It’s exciting and seldom is it disappointing because if you are not being created on then you are watching him create which is a gift in and of itself. Sometimes he will articulate what he wants and if you don’t get it then he will get up and show you and you get to experience the dancer that he is. There is such a beauty when he comes up and touches you. When he actually moves you there is a touch memory there that stays with you even after performing the work for the hundredth time. It’s really a sacred process.

When did you come to the realization that modern dance was the right path for you?

I actually started my dance training with Julie Lambert and Gilles Tanguay at Dance Consortium with would later merge with Kathy Chamberlain’s school. I was 14 at the time and I really danced because it was fun. With Gilles I learned a lot of modern movement, but when I joined Kathy’s school the focus was more on classical ballet. The school also offered classes in other styles of dance, but most of the students spent their summers at the School of American Ballet and I was never really moved by the storybook ballets. I appreciated them, but the form didn’t really speak to me.  It was Kathy who encouraged me my senior year of high school to audition for the Southern Methodist University’s dance program. So, I auditioned and got in and really had no idea what I was getting myself into. At the time I wasn’t interested in becoming a dancer, but I began to waver after taking Graham technique and working with various choreographers such as Robert Battle, Judith Jamison and Donald McKayle. But most importantly I was seeing a lot of modern dance work created by Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham. I was starting to see works that really spoke to me and that was a big game changer. So, it wasn’t until the end of my junior year when I went to the American Dance Festival (ADF) where the Paul Taylor company premiered Promethean Fire (2002) that I knew this is what I wanted to do. I didn’t just want to dance for Paul Taylor; I had to dance with Paul Taylor.

Photo: Courtesy
Photo: Courtesy

Looking back how did attending festivals such as ADF prepare you for your future as a professional dancer?

The SMU dance program required you to attend festivals, but Kathy Chamberlain has always encouraged her dancers to go and see dance and for good reason because perspective is everything. And honestly I didn’t know what dance was capable of doing. And I sense that had I not seen some of those performances I wouldn’t have known what I wanted.

As a dancer who is over 30 years old how do you avoid burning out or becoming jaded by the industry?

I think it’s about awareness and consciousness and you are ultimately in control of all of that. Nothing external to you like a choreographer, job or partner will make you happy. Happiness is our birth right. Ultimately, we all have our different paths, but it’s still up to us to have that consciousness to dream up what our life could be. We all have the same potential and it’s just a matter of how bad do you want it. How hard do you want to work at it and I think that’s just consciousness. Mr. Taylor beautifully transmits content and depths of life. There are probably a lot of young dancers that it’s all about becoming a star and in that case the Paul Taylor company is probably not right for them. It’s definitely not the place for them because it’s not about you. If you can come from a place of true contentedness and not competing with other dancers then the work doesn’t become hard or unenjoyable. It becomes an experience and it becomes gratitude. You get to see the beauty in life for its simplicity and sweetness.

The other part of it is being healthy and not smoking or drinking, and to really have a clean lifestyle. That’s what I need to be able to do the work that I’m content with and happy about. I am not saying any of these things are wrong. The kind of vigor and the expectations that the work demands of an artist actually causes me to eat consciously. I had a major injury that took me out and it was really a gift because it allowed me to want to come back to dancing. It was a gift to be able to watch work and watch my colleagues do what they love to do it. It gave me perspective. And then to be able to go back to doing it, I only felt gratitude.

How does it feel to get to perform in your hometown?

I definitely feel like I have come full circle. But what is most exciting is seeing how the city and dance community has changed since I left 12 years ago. That’s really the beautiful part of coming back to Dallas. It’s wonderful that there are presenters like the Eisemann Center and TITAS to bring in such amazing dance companies. You know, it’s not just about the dance schools, but it’s also about seeing dance and gaining perspective.

The evening’s program includes Diggity (1978), Beloved Renegade (2008) and Cloven Kingdom (1976). Which pieces will you be performing and how does each piece speak to you?

I will be performing in Beloved Renegade and Cloven Kingdom. Having a strong ballet background and exposure to other styles thanks to Kathy and SMU made learning the material easier for me. And obviously Mr. Taylor is from the school of Graham so his style is not too far off from what I am use to. Still, I was young when I joined the company, 22, so there was a lot for me to learn and it takes years to become a Taylor dancer. With more than 140 works in his repertoire these three pieces give you only a small taste of Mr. Taylor’s aesthetic. He shows you where to look in all his works, but then you have to do the discovering for yourself. Beloved Renegade is a perfect example of this. It’s inspired by Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” And how it looks to me is Mr. Taylor is reflecting on his own life or man reflecting on his own life and reminds of a quote “find death before death finds you.” I think Mr. Taylor even said that all stories end the same way and that’s with death. That’s the one thing we do know. But the work is not morbid at all.

Cloven Kingdom is the earliest work on the program and really reflects Mr. Taylor’s intellectual hunger. You can see the tension between the Baroque and modern music, but also the tension among the dancers as they struggle with social conformity as they try to disguise their own animal motives. So, you see that struggle and that conflict and the movement vocabulary within the work ultimately came out of this tension between what’s socially acceptable and our true primitive nature. Diggity is a work Mr. Taylor did with long-time collaborators Donald York (composer) and Alex Katz (sets and costumes). There’s 20 some cutouts of dogs placed around the stage which in turn creates an obstacle course for the dancers.

This Q&A was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

Paul Taylor Dance Company Announces Plans for the Future

Choreographer Paul Taylor. Photo: Paul Palmaro
Choreographer Paul Taylor. Photo: Paul Palmaro

Modern dance pioneer Paul Taylor has witnessed what has happened to his contemporaries’ dance companies once they had passed on and he knows that if he want’s his legacy to continue without him then he needs to start planning now. And these changes are occurring as the company is getting ready to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Taylor’s plans include presenting past masterworks of modern dance and works of contemporary choreographers in addition to his oeuvre and the dances he plans to continue to create, according to the New York Times Article.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company came to the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, TX in April 2013. You can view my Q&A with Paul Taylor about that performance and the company’s longevity here!

A Look Back on 2013

Joshua Peugh is the co-founder and artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Photo: Sergio Garcia
Joshua Peugh is the co-founder and artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Photo: Sergio Garcia

2013 was full of big surprises for me both personally and professionally.

First, my husband and I welcomed our first child, a baby girl named Evelyn, on June 1. (She already has perfect turn out.) My husband and I are also celebrating our fifth year as Dallas residents. This may not mean much to some people, but this is the longest we have ever stayed in once place. And in those five years we got married, got a dog (Cleveland), brought a house and had a baby. My, we have been busy!

Professionally, I am celebrating my fifth year as a dance instructor at Amanda Dalton School of Dance. Time really does fly when you are having fun. I also can’t believe I have been working on my blog for three years and in that time have written more than 150 posts. I would love to surpass that number in 2014. I am also fortunate to have an outlet for my dance writing with TheaterJones.com and WorldArtsToday.com.

I truly am grateful to live in a city that values the arts. New dance companies like Dark Circles Contemporary Dance and Avant Chamber Ballet were welcomed with opened arms by audiences this past year while established dance companies like Texas Ballet Theater and Dallas Black Dance Theatre continued to push boundaries and strengthen the art form.

DRB company member Megan Schonberg and guest artist Jamel White as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavailer. Photo: Courtesy of DRB
Dallas Repertoire Ballet company member Megan Schonberg and guest artist Jamel White as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavailer. Photo: Courtesy of DRB

But the city wouldn’t be the cultural mecca that it is today without the smaller local companies. My Nutcracker Roundup this year included more than 20 Nutcracker and Holiday performances. I was fortunate enough to review 5 of them.

LakeCities Ballet Theatre stood out for its use of live music; Texas Ballet Theater for its special effects and strong male dancers; Ballet Frontier of Texas for its simplicity; Ballet Ensemble of Texas for its pristine pointe work and uniformity; and Dallas Repertoire Ballet for its creative choreography and  musicality.

I did take a break from all the nuttiness by going to see Epiphany DanceArts’ heartfelt Christmas Memories production and Bruce Wood’s cabaret-inspired holiday show entitled Mistletoe Magic.

Another aspect of my job is interviewing choreographers from touring dance companies. I played it cool when I interviewed the legendary Paul Taylor and the new Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle back in April, but the dancer in me was shaking in her dance shoes.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Company B. Photo: Rex C. Curry
Paul Taylor Dance Company in Company B. Photo: Rex C. Curry

I also got to talk with Complexions’ co-founder Desmond Richardson who came to Dallas in March for TITAS’ highly anticipated Command Performance Gala. I even got to go backstage after the performance to meet Desmond face to face. (Getting back stage at the Winspear was like getting into the Pentagon. Even with an escort we had to go through multiple check points. It was totally awesome.)

For the first time ever dance dominated TITAS’ performance lineup. Companies including Stephen Petronio, Doug Varone, The Joffrey Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Grupo Corpo and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater all got their chance to perform in the state of the art Winspear Opera House.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Violet Kid. Photo by Juileta Cervantes
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in Violet Kid. Photo by Juileta Cervantes

After reflecting on all the great performances from the last year I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store!

And a big thank you to all my readers out there! I love writing for you and I plan to do a lot more of it. 🙂

Happy New Year!!! Keep Dancing!!!

Q&A: Paul Taylor

Choreographer Paul Taylor. Photo: Paul Palmaro
Choreographer Paul Taylor. Photo: Paul Palmaro

The iconic choreographer discusses modern dance in the 21st century, the popularity of contemporary ballet, and his company’s longevity.

Richardson — The legendary Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts on April 13, 2013 for a one-night-only performance. The evening’s program includes The Uncommitted (2011), Brandenburgs (1988) and Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) (1980).This marks the company’s sixth appearance as part of the Eisemann Center Presents series and also includes a master class on April 12 and an open educational rehearsal prior to Saturday’s performance.

Choreographer Paul Taylor is known as the last living pioneer of modern dance. Born during the Great Depression, Taylor attended Syracuse University in the late 1940s before transferring to The Juilliard School. In 1954 he assembled a small company of dancers and began choreographing. His most notable works include 3 Epitaphs (1956), Aureole (1962), Esplanade (1975) and Company B (1991). Taylor joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1955 and was invited to be a guest artist with the New York City Ballet in 1959, where George Balanchine created the Episodes solo for him.

Taylor has received every important honor given to artists in the United States. His accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 1992, the National Medal of Arts awarded by President Clinton in 1993, and the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995. He is also the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and was named one of 50 prominent Americans honored in recognition of their outstanding achievement by the Library of Congress’s Office of Scholarly Programs.

Today, Taylor’s dances are performed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the six-member Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company and dance companies throughout the world, including the Royal Danish Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He remains among the most sought-after choreographers working in the industry today.

TheaterJones asks Paul Taylor about his company’s longevity, preserving his work, and how modern dance has changed over the last 50 years.

TheaterJones: The Paul Taylor Dance Company has been going since 1954. How do you keep yourself from burning out?

Paul Taylor: It’s really not a problem for me. I love to work, I love what I do and I enjoy the people I work with, so the concept of burning out doesn’t occur to me. I don’t think I am burning out.

To what do you attribute your company’s success?

Paul Taylor's The Uncommitted. Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
Paul Taylor’s The Uncommitted. Photo: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

(He laughs.) Well, to a lot of things, but especially the dancers, my managers over years, my fundraisers and then the fact that I know how to cut expenses. I was born in the Great Depression and my family really set the example as to how to cut costs.

Have the qualities you look for in a dancer changed over time?

I really haven’t changed in that way. I still look for the same qualities that I always did. I will say that dancers today are usually more technically advanced than in my day, but I don’t look for anything different than I always have. For me it’s all about communication both verbally and through the movement.

What is it about your work that makes it so relatable to people of all different generations? I am speaking primarily of your piece Company B.

Well, I don’t really think about how the audience is going to relate to the work when I am creating it. I try to make things that I think I’d like to see. I don’t know how to work any other way. With Company B, it’s really the music that draws people in. It’s basically a war dance and most people know about war and therefore can relate to it. It’s about the people who stay home, with glimpses of the people who don’t. So, on the surface it seems like lots of fun with the spritely and happy music when actually from the very beginning there are hints that it’s not going to be that kind of dance.

What challenges have you encountered when it comes to archiving and preserving your work?

Fortunately, I have an archivist that takes care of all that.

What are your thoughts on contemporary ballet and the influx of contemporary ballet companies in the U.S.?

I’m not really the person to ask about that because I rarely go out to see dancing. What I will say is that modern dance has always had an influence on classical ballet dance, and so dancers today are more interested in doing work that is not totally classic. You know quite a few ballet companies take my work and put it in their reps and that is very nice.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Company B. Photo: Rex C. Curry
Paul Taylor Dance Company in Company B. Photo: Rex C. Curry

American Ballet Theatre performed Company B in Dallas last year. Were you happy with their version?

I was there when ABT learned the piece and I thought it was very good. There are differences between their style and mine, but it takes years of training to get the kind of weight in the movement that most of my dancers have. I figure if the dance is solid and structurally firm it can stand on its own.

Where does traditional modern dance fit in the 21st century?

It’s hard to say what is traditional because each generation has its own version of what they think modern dance should be. It’s constantly changing. What people use to call modern dance is now called something else. So, I think it will just go on changing according to the different generations that come along and add to it.

 You have done and accomplished so much in the modern dance field. Is there anything else you would like to do?

Oh sure! I mean dance is a bottomless pit, and I would just like to keep on working as long as I can.

This Q&A was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.