Last year I wrote a profile of Paul Taylor for The Nation. I was trying to get at what exactly is so special about his work, and found that, in fact, he is a very difficult choreographer to categorize, mainly because he has so many different “modes.” He’s always changing, and yet, when you see a Taylor piece, you always know it’s his. What fascinates me most is the perversity of his imagination. How many times I’ve sat in a theatre and thought, “what is this?” Taylor’s mind is endlessly perplexing. And then there is the absolute simplicity and “rightness” of a work like Esplanade. For which there is no need for explanation.
Here’s a link to that profile.
And a short excerpt:
“Another feature of Aureole (and of many of Taylor’s best-known works) is its easygoing, quirky musicality. Taylor listens to music constantly—the radio is always on in his house, says his biographer, Suzanne Carbonneau—but he doesn’t read musical scores or treat them with particular reverence. It is a frequent practice of his to splice together movements from different pieces (as in Aureole and Esplanade) or even to layer sounds on top of one another (as in Cloven Kingdom). And he uses all kinds of music, from popular songs to Muzak to Beethoven quartets, barrel organs, Bach and noisy electronic compositions by Donald York (a onetime musical adviser to the company). The music and movement enter into a kind of dialogue, though Taylor isn’t interested either in fitting steps to music in the traditional sense, or in matching the internal structure of the music with his dance phrases—an approach he calls “Mickey Mousing” the music, with Balanchine having been a particular offender. As he writes of one of his early works, Junction, he wants the music and the dance to be “like chums whose compatibility is so strong that they even have the right to ignore each other.”