PAUL TAYLOR, American choreographer and dancer, was born; One of the foremost American choreographers of the 20th century, Taylor was born in Pennsylvania and attended Syracuse University on painting and swimming scholarships. He took up dance at Syracuse after seeing Martha Graham photos in a book at the library and attending dance a ballet performance that came through Syracuse.
He continued his studies at the Juilliard School and the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College. In 1952 his dancing at that festival was a sensation and attracted the attention of choreographers Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey.
He has performed in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and George Balanchine, and founded the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1954. Dancers who emerged from his company include Twyla Tharp, Laura Dean Dan Wagoner, Carolyn Adams, Christopher Gillis and David Parsons.
At 6’3″ Taylor is a large man for a dancer, but he danced with a startlingly fluid movement. His lyrical approach gave barefoot modern dance a neo-classic style with a virtuosic edge. When Taylor retired from dancing in 1974 at the age of 44, many felt that this very good choreographer was on his way to becoming a great one.
The use of everyday gestures rather than dance moves is the outstanding characteristic of his choreography as well as beautiful dancers. From its beginning the Paul Taylor Dance Company was distinguished by the look of its male dancers. Typically, they are larger than men in other companies. Their size gives Taylor’s choreography a muscular weight. He has collaborated with painters Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Alex Katz, as well as the legendary Tiffany & Co. Designer, Gene Moore. A signature work is Esplanade (1975), to music by J.S. Bach, which he choreographed with a contribution from the National Endowment for the Arts. In his autobiography Private Domain (1987), Taylor states his bisexuality, but concludes that, “As far as romance goes, I can forget it.” Same-sex partnering appears in works such as Esplanade (1975), Kith and Kin (1987), Company B (1991), and Piazzolla Caldera (1997).