Paul Taylor, photo by Maxine Hicks

Paul Taylor is counting on his modern dance company outliving him. And to do that, he is selling some very valuable Robert Rauschenberg paintings as a new beginning to fund the company as it continues to present its season at Lincoln Center. Taylor’s is the last of the great American modern dance companies still performing under its original creator. He wants to make sure that the company will be able to continue dancing his works when he is no longer around.

The move is going to make his company a version of what New York City Ballet has become in the post Balanchine era: a flagship dance organization which performs primarily original works of its founder but also one that branches out to include other contemporary dance creators. Until recently Taylor has presented his New York dance season at City Center which was also an early home for City Ballet. The move has prompted the loss of live music for the company’s performances but Taylor has said that music will be restored when the company opens again at Lincoln Center next March.

The other major American modern dance legacy companies founded by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, and Jose Limon have all chosen to continue in different ways. The Cunningham Dance Company no longer exists as a performance group. Both the Graham and Limon companies perform repertory which also includes works by other choreographers. All four companies continue to stage and present their proprietary repertory for other companies around the world. The Taylor repertory now includes 140 works embracing many collaborations with both visual artists and composers.

Photo credit: Maxine Hicks

About the author

Steven Woodruff lives in Los Angeles where he is a professional musician, dancer, educator, and writer. His writing includes original poetry and translations as well articles on film, stage, television, and culture. He reviews dance and music covering national and international touring concert programs as well as local companies for DancePlug, DanceChannelTV, and BachTrack in the UK.