Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Paul Taylor Dance makes Denver return


“Brief Encounters” is part of the program the Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform at DU on Oct. 16. Photo: Tom Caravaglia

An icon of modern dance since the 1950s, Paul Taylor has seen a lot of trends come and go. The latest fashion, wherein choreographers use technology and video projections to enhance their work, elicits a strong reaction from the 80-year-old Taylor.

“I think it stinks,” he says with a laugh. “I think dance is about steps, movement, people dancing. Doing it in front of a movie or telling us about their terrible mother or something like that — those are dead ends.

“I don’t know what direction it’s going to go in,” he says of the art form he helped to pioneer, “but let’s hope it’s more dancing and less talking.”

Denver dance fans can expect plenty of movement — and very little talking — when the Paul Taylor Dance Company performs at the Newman Center on Oct. 16. It’s the company’s first Denver appearance since 1991.

“Paul is — along with Martha Graham and a handful of others — one of the people who basically invented what we think of as modern dance,” says Steve Seifert, executive director of the Newman Center. “They love the prospect of being in a market they haven’t been in for a very long time. They were at the Vail Dance Festival this summer, but they’ve crafted a different program [for the Newman Center]. So if anybody saw them in Vail they need to come again, because it’s all different stuff.”

The centerpiece of the Denver program is “Brief Encounters,” which premiered in New York in November 2009. Set to Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner,” the dance’s theme is anything but childish. Featuring nearly nude dancers in various combinations, the piece was described by The New York Times as “transient scenes of sexual desire, emotional perplexity and more.” Taylor says it’s about “young people interested in meeting each other, but secretly and briefly.”

Also on the program are “Cloven Kingdom,” first performed in 1976 and set to music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell and Malloy Miller; and “Brandenburgs,” first performed in 1988 and set to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company performs at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in DU’s Newman Center, 2344 E. Iliff Ave. A free “Behind the Curtain” lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $32–$48; visit for tickets and more information.




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