Greater Vernon is about to experience the beauty and artistry of the modern dance movement when a dance company led by one of America’s greatest living choreographers arrives in town.
Paul Taylor was and still is on the forefront of American modern dance, and now the company that bears his name is about to give the season premiere of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s 2015-16 dance series.
“It’s a coup to bring a company of this stature to Vernon,” said the centre’s artistic director Erin Kennedy. “When I heard that Alberta Ballet was bringing the Paul Taylor Dance Company to Calgary and Edmonton, I convinced them to come here.”
One of the early touring companies of American modern dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company has performed in more than 567 cities in 65 countries and still spends more than half of each performance season touring.
The company’s performance in Vernon will include masterworks Esplanade, Company B, and Promethean Fire.
“The dances we’re performing at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre showcase the brilliance of Paul Taylor in a variety of dance styles and themes,” said John Tomlinson, executive director of the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation. “These dances – a combination of classics and recent masterworks – are a marriage of some of the world’s greatest choreography performed by some the world’s finest dancers.”
The last living member of the pantheon that created America’s art of modern dance, Taylor, 84, continues to create at least two new works a year for his 16-member company. His creations are still winning public and critical acclaim for their vibrancy, relevance and power, and his ideas are still a heavy influence for art of the 21st century.
“I make dances because I believe in the power of contemporary dance, its immediacy, its potency, its universality,” Taylor is quoted as saying. “I make dances because that’s what I’ve spent many years teaching myself to do and it’s become what I’m best at.”
Taylor’s work covers a wide range of topics, such as love, sexual orientation, feminism, war and religion. While he may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, he more frequently uses them to illuminate such profound issues as war, piety, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality.
Prior to founding his own company in 1954, Taylor was a student of Juilliard School in New York City, and performed in the company of modern dance greats such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine.
As a choreographer, he has created 140 dances including such masterworks as Aureole, Esplanade, Company B, Promethean Fire, and Beloved Renegade.
Taylor’s accolades include the 1993 National Medal of Arts, which was presented to him by then U.S. President Bill Clinton, and the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors. He won an Emmy for the 1992 PBS program Speaking in Tongues.
Matthew Diamond’s 1998 documentary Dancemaker, based on Taylor’s autobiography, Private Domain (1987), was nominated for an Academy Award.
A new feature length documentary, Paul Taylor: Creative Domain, screened at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre last Saturday, features Taylor during his creative period choreographing Three Dubious Memories, his 133rd dance.
Tickets for Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Nov. 10 performance in Vernon are $47 for adults, $44 for seniors and $42 for students, on sale now through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. This show can also be purchased as part of the centre’s 2015/16 dance series subscription package also available at the Ticket Seller.