(July 29, 1930 - living) U.S.A.
Dancer and choreographer
He was born Paul Belleville Taylor, Jr. in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. After his parents divorced he was shuttled between various friends and relatives as his mother worked full-time in a restaurant.
Taylor attended Syracuse University on an athletic scholarship as a swimmer and majored in sculpture and painting, until he discovered dance. He left school during his junior year to study with Martha Graham, Antony Tudor, and José Limón, among others. He then danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1953-1954), Pearl Lang (1955), and then the Martha Graham Dance Company (1955-1962).
Taylor established his own company in 1964. After appearing at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, the company began to tour all over the world. Several of his company's tours have been sponsored by the United States State Department. 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. Many of his dances have been performed by major ballet and modern companies around the world, especially Aureole (1962), Esplanade (1975), Airs (1978), and Arden Court (1981).
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. With rare exceptions, Taylor has treated his company as a true ensemble, equally distributing solo roles among them.
In 1987 the company's concerts began to include work by choreographers other than Taylor; and in 1992 Taylor formed a junior group, Taylor 2, a company of six dancers who bring many of the choreographer's masterworks to smaller venues around the world. Taylor 2 also teaches the Taylor style in schools and workplaces and at community gatherings.
Two young dancers of Taylor 2
In his chatty autobiography Private Domain (1987), Taylor mentions sexual encounters with both men and women, yet concludes that "As far as romance goes, I can forget it." He seems to find his responsibility for his "family" of dancers a satisfying substitute.
Same-sex partnering appears in works such as Esplanade (1975), Kith and Kin (1987), Company B (1991), and Piazzolla Caldera (1997). Still, these works may not indicate much about Taylor's private life. As he has warned many interviewers during his career, "I'm not trying to do autobiographical dances, that's not my thing."
Among Taylor's honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship (1961), an Emmy Award (Speaking in Tongues, 1991), a Kennedy Center Award (1992), and a National Medal of Arts (1993).
Taylor was elected to knighthood by the French government as Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1969 and has since been elevated to the ranks of Officier (1984) and Commandeur (1990). In January 2000 he was awarded France's highest honor, the Légion d'Honneur, for exceptional contributions to French culture.