Paul Taylor is one of the most accomplished dancemakers of the 20th and 21st Centuries. He helped shape and define America’s home grown art of modern dance from the earliest days of his career as a choreographer in 1954 until his death in August 2018. After 60 years as Artistic Director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, he blazed a new trail in 2014 by establishing an institutional home for the art form: Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, which presents great modern works of the past as well as outstanding works by today’s leading choreographers alongside Paul Taylor’s repertoire.
Paul Taylor was born on July 29, 1930 and grew up in and around Washington, DC. He attended Syracuse University in the late 1940s until he discovered dance through books at the University library, and then transferred to The Juilliard School New York. In 1954 he assembled a small company of dancers and began to choreograph. A commanding performer, he joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1955 as soloist while continuing to choreograph on his own troupe. In 1959 he was invited to be a guest artist with New York City Ballet, where Balanchine created the »Episodes« solo for him.
Many of Paul Taylor’s 147 pieces have attained iconic status. He has covered a breath taking range of topics. While some of his dances comment on such profound issues as war, piety, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality, he has also made some of the most purely romantic, most astonishingly athletic, and downright funniest dances ever put on stage. Furthermore, his extraordinary musicality has often been highlighted.
Paul Taylor has influenced dozens of dance artists including Pina Bausch, Patrick Corbin, Thomas Evert, Twyla Tharp and many more. Many others have gone on to become respected teachers at colleges and universities.
As the subject of Matthew Diamond’s documentary »Dancemaker«, and author of the autobiography »Private Domain« and Wall Street Journal essay »Why I Make Dances«, Paul Taylor has shed light on the mysteries of the creative process as few artists have. »Dancemaker«, which received an Oscar nomination, was hailed by Time as »perhaps the best dance documentary ever«. His autobiography, »Private Domain«, was nominated by the National Book Critics Circle as the most distinguished biography of 1987. Paul Taylor has received nearly every important honour given to artists in the United States. Just to mention a few: he received an Emmy Award for »Speaking in Tongues« and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1993. In 1995 he received the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from several Universities and famous Colleges. Awards for lifetime achievement include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – often called the »genius award« – and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award.
With the restaging of »Promethean Fire« in 2023 the Vienna State Ballet shows for the first time a work by Paul Taylor.