Paul Taylor; Legendary Modern Dancer and Choreographer, Gone At 88

by Michael Mahany | 8/30/2018 4:47 PM

Photo Credit: Alvin Ailey American Dance

Paul Taylor, the legendary modern dance icon passed away Wednesday in New York City at the age of 88.

According to The New York Times reporting, Paul Taylor Dance spokesperson Lisa Labrado said the cause of death was renal failure.

Taylor, who began choreographing in 1954, had one of the most widely respected and impressive bodies of work of any major choreographer to date, having created, just earlier this year, his 147th choreographed dance— Concertiana.

Taylor, who was born in Pennsylvania on July 29th, 1930, grew up in Washington D.C. As a young man, he attended Syracuse University where he, reportedly learned about dance through books in the school library. He later transferred to The Juilliard School, where he graduated with a dance degree in 1953.

After he began creating his own works right out of school, Taylor found it wasn’t long until he working with the greats of the early modern dance era. Only five years out of school, he was invited by the iconic George Balanchine to be a guest artist at New York City Ballet.

Photo Credit: Grand Rapids Ballet

Taylor, as dancer, worked with the masters of his art form, having danced for legends like Cunningham, Graham, and Balanchine. It was ultimately, however, the dances he designed and choreographed himself that left his lasting legacy. According to his dance company’s website, “[Taylor], having performed with Martha Graham’s company for several years”… bridged the legendary founders of modern dance – like “Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Doris Humphrey and Ms. Graham – and the dance makers of the 21st Century.”

Through a 2015 initiative with Lincoln Center, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance was formed. PTAMD company members bring, through a month-long festival at the David H. Koch Theatre, the highest echelons of modern dance to the uptown dance community. Paul Taylor’s company, with all of its New York City lower-east-side flare, offers the more traditional ballet crowd a look into the legacy of the American-born modern dance style, by presenting “great modern works of the past and outstanding works by today’s leading choreographers… alongside Mr. Taylor’s own vast… repertoire.”

RELATED STORY: Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Has Been Making Waves All Month at Lincoln Center

Paul Taylor’s legacy flourished into The Paul Taylor Dance Company dancers, Paul Taylor 2, and the Taylor School. The Taylor Company has performed in more than 540 cities in 64 countries and has represented the United States at arts festivals in more than 40 countries.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company dancers are Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Eran Bugge, Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak, Heather McGinley, George Smallwood, Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho, Kristin Draucker, Lee Duveneck, and Alex Clayton.

Michael Mahany is a writer, host, actor, and serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.