Remembering Paul Taylor’s Lower East Side Years

Photo by Whitney Browne, 2014.

Paul Taylor is pictured on the left, working with dancers in his Grand Street studio. Photo by Whitney Browne, 2014.

Throughout the long weekend, there were heartfelt remembrances for Paul Taylor, the brilliant and prolific modern dance choreographer. Taylor, a Lower East Side resident during the past eight years, died on Wednesday at the age of 88. In 2010, the Paul Taylor Dance Studio relocated from the West Village to a newly renovated space at 551 Grand St.

Taylor, reported the New York Times, “brought a lyrical musicality, capacity for joy and wide poetic imagination to modern dance over six decades as one of its greatest choreographers.”  The San Francisco Chronicle called Taylor, “a towering figure in American modern dance who… created a vast body of work that reflected both the giddy highs and the depraved lows of the human condition.” The Washington Post described him as a gifted storyteller, who “could portray distinct personalities, subtle emotional shifts and un­expected plot twists — all through concise, telling movement and an unerring sense of timing.”


This past spring, Taylor announced that Michael Novak had been appointed artistic director-designate. In a statement released following Taylor’s death, Novak said, “Paul Taylor was one of the world’s greatest dancemakers, and his passing deeply saddens not only those of us who worked with him, but also people all over the world whose spirits have been touched by his incomparable art. We are grateful for your love and support as we begin to carry on his legacy with the utmost fidelity and devotion.”

Taylor in his office at the new studios on Grand Street in 2011. Photo by Lo-Down.

Taylor in his office at the new studios on Grand Street in 2011. Photo by The Lo-Down.

The Lo-Down’s Traven Rice interviewed Taylor in 2014 in his apartment in the East River Cooperative. Here’s an excerpt from the story we published based on that interview:

Taylor is surrounded by a loyal team, some members of which have been in the company for decades. Whether they’re dancers, behind-the-scenes staff or alumni, dedication to Taylor is a common theme. “Ah, yes,” Taylor said, and the respect “is mutual. … It’s like a big … professional family… and there are dancers of all different generations. I’m like the great-grandfather.” That’s an advantage, he said. “When I was their age … in the beginning, it was harder to get them to do what I wanted them to do. But now,” he said with a chuckle, “I don’t have any trouble. … They don’t give me any lip.”

The city’s artistic scene has changed markedly since the 1950s, he said: “It was very different when I first came to New York to be a dancer. The arts communities were smaller. The poets, the writers, composers, painters — there were fewer of us, and … we knew each other and we’d get together at somebody’s loft or maybe at a bar,” a diverse mix of the arts. “I was one of the younger ones, and I’d listen to them talk about their ideas. It was very educational for me. I met Bob Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns … Ellsworth Kelly, to name a few, but now there are so many dancers and other artists that that doesn’t happen anymore.”

Surviving as an artist in New York, was easier back then, Taylor said. These days, his dancers struggle financially. In the old days, “you could make money and work as a dancer. There were a lot of small companies, like Martha Graham. She had a Broadway season, and I’d dance with her. And Balanchine had one, and I did a dance of his” as a soloist with the New York City Ballet,” and there were a lot of less-well-known choreographers that I worked with. … There were a lot of musical comedies then, and we could get paying jobs that way, instead of waiting tables. So that was an advantage.”

Today, “it’s very hard and very expensive,” said Taylor.  “It wasn’t that bad for me. My first cold-water flat in New York … was $20 a month or something.” It was “really crummy — it was in Hell’s Kitchen — but you could do it.  And you didn’t mind because you were in the place you wanted to be.”

Now Taylor and his company are in another place he wants to be — the Lower East Side. “Oh yeah. Forever!”

The company is sharing photos and remembrances of Taylor on its Instagram page. You can see more here.


Arts Watch: Taylor Teen Ensemble to Perform at Open House on Saturday


Taylor Teen Ensemble3The Taylor Teen Ensemble, which is selected by audition only, will be performing ahead of Taylor 2 this Saturday, in a free Open House hosted by the Paul Taylor Dance Company at their studio on Grand Street.  The ensemble, in it’s third year, was started by director Raegan Wood, who came in to run the dance school, which was created after the company moved to it’s new location (lucky for us).

Taylor Teen Ensemble

The company includes teens from ages 13 through 19 and rehearses three times a week.  “It’s a great opportunity for them to experience pieces from Paul’s repertoire. And it’s wonderful to see them striving to perform a master’s work,” says Wood. The young dancers also take classes and work on excerpts from Paul Taylor’s signature dances. They perform at up to a dozen different venues around the city each spring.

Taylor Teen esplanade

The Taylor Teen Ensemble will be at The Joyce Theater on Feb. 14th as part of Martha Graham’s University Partners Showcase. This weekend you can see them perform excerpts from the piece, RUNES, which will be performed in full by the Taylor 2 Company directly following them at 2:00 p.m. and again at 3:00 p.m.

Paul Taylor’s American Dance Studio is located at 551 Grand St.  For reservations email:

Dance Legend Paul Taylor: Celebrating a 60th Season, Settling in on the Lower East Side

All Photos by Whitney Browne.

All Photos by Whitney Browne.

This story was originally published in our February 2014 magazine.  See more of photographer Whitney Browne’s excellent series, “Create With Taylor” at

Paul Taylor, the internationally acclaimed modern dance choreographer, was immersed in creating his 140th work when we met at his comfortable penthouse apartment in the East River Cooperative on Grand Street on a cold December morning.  It was 8 a.m., a time chosen by the early-rising Mr. Taylor himself, who at the age of 84 remains one of New York’s most prolific artists. A pack of cigarettes sat on the coffee table in front of him untouched, a rare occurrence (Taylor insists smoking is one of the keys to a long and productive life).  

TLD Interview: Principal Dancer Michael Trusnovec, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Michael Trusnovec, principal dancer for Paul Taylor Dance Company. Photo: Paul B. Goode

We spoke with Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Michael Trusnovec as he was preparing for the New York season at Lincoln Center. As a principal dancer for the company, Trusnovec moves gracefully, fully and with emotion, no matter the role. We discussed the company’s move in 2010 from its longtime headquarters in Soho to its brand new home on the Lower East Side at 552 Grand Street, as well as his own move into the neighborhood—an apartment in the Seward Park Co-ops.

TLD – You’re less than a week away from opening the company’s premier season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. That must be very exciting and also very intense.

MT – A little bit intense!

TLD – For many years you performed at City Center. Are there any adjustments that you have to make as a dancer?

MT – The Lincoln Center season is new. It is a big change for us from City Center, but an exciting one. There are always new changes; we have new studios, we are touring constantly, going into new spaces. Dancers are quick to adjust on our feet. We also have a crew who goes in a few days before and makes the space feel familiar. The biggest difference is the audience relationship to the stage. City Center is more intimate. I am excited about having to really project.

Dance Classes For Kids Offered at Paul Taylor’s Lower East Side School

Instructor Reagan Wood works with students during a recent community day.

The following article was written by Rachel Berman of the Paul Taylor Dance Company:

On a Saturday morning at 551 Grand Street, home to the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the pitter-patter of little feet can be heard from inside the studio as Raegan Wood leads her tiny dancers into the Magic Elevator. Up, up, up they go to floor 357, emerging into the Jungle Room. “Everyone dance through the jungle!” shouts Ms. Wood as the children disperse across the room, becoming skulking jungle cats, graceful bright-winged birds, or even a towering tree around which monkeys scamper and snakes slither. Some students just choose to move sluggishly through the humid air. In this Level 1 class in the Youth Program, 4-6 year olds are learning the basics of modern dance, including creativity, musicality, and basic dance terminology. The program is a new addition to the Taylor School, offering modern dance classes with a focus on Paul Taylor’s signature style to young people ages four through teen. Since its launch this past September, the program has been so well-received that new class times are being added for the upcoming spring session.

Local Cooking at Home: Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls from Carlin Greenstein

LES resident and locavore chef Carlin Greenstein is contributing a weekly seasonal recipe based on  fresh food you can find at local markets or in your CSA. This week, she shares a recipe for summer rolls (Siamese Rolls) that combines raw and cooked ingredients:

I own a very worn and well-loved copy of a cookbook called, The Balanced Plate by Renee Loux.  A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to partake in a class she taught called Raw Integration, which brings together both raw and cooked elements to make a dish or a meal.

Paul Taylor and Company Captivate Lower East Side

Mr. Paul Taylor in his office at the new studios on Grand Street

Over 800 people stopped in to to visit the new home base for the world-renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company on Sunday.  Lower East Side residents were treated to a warm welcome at the company’s Holiday Open House which included free performances, refreshments, tours and raffle prizes.  The audience, from very young to very old, was enraptured by the dancers as they performed in their gorgeous new rehearsal space.  It was a rare preview of new work that will be presented in February at NY City Center.  (More photos after the jump.)

Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Open House – on Sunday

As you might have heard, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has moved to Grand Street. They have put the finishing touches on their new home, the former Lippman Auditorium at 551 Grand Street, and are ready to celebrate with the neighborhood this weekend.  The organization has invited the Lower East Side community to an open house at the new studios this Sunday, Jan. 9th, from noon – 4pm.  We got a sneak peak at the new space:

Paul Taylor Dance Celebrates New Home With Open House

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Promethean Fire – Photo by Lois Greenfield

The Paul Taylor Dance Company is ready to show off their new home in the former Lippman Auditorium at 551 Grand Street.  They have invited the Lower East Side community to celebrate with them in the new studios next Sunday, Jan. 9th, from noon – 4pm.  There will be free performances by the Paul Taylor Dance Company and Taylor 2 during the “Holiday Open House.” Refreshments will be served and guests will have a chance to win merchandise and tickets to the 2011 Season at City Center.

Paul Taylor Celebrates Move to LES With a Free Performance

Esplanade group PBG

Members from The Paul Taylor Dance Company's sister company, Taylor 2, will be celebrating the recent move to our neighborhood with a FREE performance this Sunday at Abrons Art Center, at 2:00pm. The intimate six-member ensemble, was formed in 1993 to bring the signature
works of Paul Taylor to new audiences
"unhindered by economic or technical limitations". Taylor 2 will
perform Esplanade, featuring the music of Bach, and Company B, a piece set to songs by the Andrews Sisters expressing the sentiments of Americans during World War II.  Arrive early for a seat, as they will be first-come, first-served.