Prior to forming his own company, American dancer, choreographer, and director Paul Taylor performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company and briefly with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. After he presented his work 3 Epitaphs in New York City in 1956, Martha Graham called Taylor a “naughty boy.” That same year he presented his first full evening of choreography titled Seven New Dances by Paul Taylor, at the Kaufmann Concert Hall in NYC. Before long, the Paul Taylor Dance Company was touring nationally and internationally with Taylor winning the award for Best Choreographer at the 1962 Festival of Nations. From 1954 until his death in 2018, Taylor created 147 dances and was said to have reinvented the roles of music, movement, and theme in dance.
Presented by First Run Features, directed by Emmy-award-winning Kate Geis along with Emmy-award-winning cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, and executive producer Robert Aberlin have created an extraordinary documentary Paul Taylor: Creative Domain, which gives “an inside look at a master at work – creating something metaphysical from emotion, inspiration and bodies in action.” Filmed while in his 80s, Paul Taylor: Creative Domain was the last documentary created prior to his death and this amazing film will be available for Streaming and on DVD November 1, 2022.
The creative team of Paul Taylor: Creative Domain has given the viewer a very rare glimpse into the man as well as the dancemaker. Taylor was a very private individual and did not often speak about his work process. Here we see snippets of rehearsals for a new work titled Three Dubious Memories (2010) and get just a hint of what creative thoughts Taylor was having. Present and former company members speak about how it was to work with the master, and how during the making of a new work is when they get to know Taylor just a little bit more.
This gem of a film opens with a scene of Taylor dancing in one of his works in 1966 and then it shifts to the 80 something year old man who seems so frail in comparison. His mind, however, was as agile and his humor was as quick as I remember him during my time in New York. We see the last day of choreography, a run through for the composer Peter Elyakim Taussig who was born in Czechoslovakia, grew up in Israel and later moved to Canada, and to hear Taussig’s response. The film continues to Texas for the premiere performance and then ends with the first day of rehearsal for yet another new work by Taylor titled Uncommitted (2010) set to music by Arvo Pärt. Taylor went on to create twelve more dances before he died.
Paul Taylor: Creative Domain is a film that left me with a wonderful memory of someone I had the honor to call a friend during my years with the Viola Farber Dance Company in New York. I highly recommend that you view it and that it finds its way into the library of every dance department throughout the country.
What the critics say about the film.
CRITIC’S PICK! “
Absorbing… approaches the mystical”
– Rachel Saltz, The New York Times
“Engrossing…zeroes in on a mystery. It’s a process that can only be experienced.”
-Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post
“Lucid, Energetic, Fascinating… A dance is not only motion, but emotion. This fascinating film reminds us how closely the two are linked.” -Diana Clarke, The Village Voice
“Taylor’s candor, his willingness to voice his misgivings, is one of his lineaments. As he said, none of this is comfortable: the dance, the job, the life.” -Joan Acocella, The New Yorker
“More than a dance doc…Taylor’s creation of a new piece virtually diagrams how one generation passes on its wisdom about the body, the mind, relationships and imagination.” -Armond White, OUT
From the press release:
Beginning with Paul dancing in his youth, describing the nature of dance (“you learn to live day to day, hour to hour,”) Paul Taylor: Creative Domain features Paul, in his 80s, still living life in the moment, with his mind intently focused on his next dance. His new work is a Rashomon-inspired exploration of memory; three characters entangled in a tragic relationship, each believing only in their own dark memory.
Through the lens of legendary dance cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, viewers see Paul’s distinctive non-verbal communication with his dancers up-close. Below the surface of this dance and the many works that came before is Paul’s power of acute observation, revealing a side to his choreography that is strangely prophetic. The dominant voice guiding the film is Paul’s – and between guarded and unguarded moments, we view him with new eyes and new understanding.
In conjunction with the opening of “Taylor: A New Era,” the returning season of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center on November 1st, Paul Taylor: Creative Domain illuminates the company’s legacy as they now enter a new era following the passing of their founder.
PAUL TAYLOR: CREATIVE DOMAIN
A documentary by Kate Geis | 82 minutes | color | English.
Streaming Premiere & DVD Street Date: November 1, 2022.
Streaming platforms include Amazon, Apple TV, and iTunes.
DVD PRE-BOOK: 10/4/2022 SRP: $24.95
DVD UPC:7-20229-91822-0 DVD Catalog #: FRF918220D
DVD Bonus Features
Dance on Camera Festival Q&A
Interview with Paul Taylor Dance Company Artistic Director Michael Novak
Credits: Kate Geis – Director, Producer, Editor; Robert Aberlin – Executive Producer; Tom Hurwitz – Director of Photography; Peter Miller – Sound
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle from the press release by Kelly Hargraves.
Featured image: Paul Taylor: Creative Domain – Dancer James Samson in rehearsal with Paul Taylor – Photo by Tom Hurwitz