Sunset, choreographed by Paul Taylor, performed by Christopher Gillis and David Parsons in 1994, for the Dance in America series. Sunset is one of several works
in which Taylor addresses war and the experiences of soldiers and women during
wartime. His choreography is notable for its strong contrasts in tone and its
engagement with both dark and light sides of relationships.

Paul Taylor, Photo by Bob Cato Pictured left: Paul Taylor. Though Taylor got a late start in dance, he studied intensively and performed widely, absorbing various techniques and styles. He danced leading roles in his own work until 1974. (Photograph by Bob Cato; from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)

Modern dance choreographer Paul Taylor (1930- ) made his debut in 1950 at Syracuse University and created his first choreography—Hobo Ballet—for fellow students. During the 1950s, he trained at the Juilliard School and performed in works by Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine. Combining appearances on concert and commercial stages and television, Taylor evolved a quirky personal technique to express his pluralistic aesthetic. Gems among his choreography cannot be categorized, but explore diverse aspects of humor, lyricism, doom, and ritual. Among Taylor's masterworks are Three Epitaphs, Aureole, Scudorama, From Sea to Shining Sea, Esplanade, Cloven Kingdom, Airs, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal), Mercuric Tidings, Last Look, Musical Offering, Speaking in Tongues, and Company B. Frequent collaborators have included painters Robert Rauschenberg and Alex Katz and composer Donald York. Taylor formed his own ensemble in 1954 and established Taylor 2 in 1993. His autobiography Private Domain was published in 1987. Elected to French knighthood in 1969, Taylor has received more than forty awards, including America's National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors, as well as an Emmy for WNET/New York's production of Speaking in Tongues.

Paul Taylor in Aureole at Jacob's Pillow, 1964 Pictured right: Paul Taylor in Aureole at Jacob's Pillow, 1964. Aureole was commissioned by the American Dance Festival in 1962 and set to music by Handel. Its success helped to solidify Taylor’s career as a choreographer, and to define his simple yet dynamic movement vocabulary. (Photo by John Lindquist. From the Harvard Theatre Collection.)

Learn more in Paul Taylor, an essay by Mary Wegmann.