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

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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.

TLD – You’ve been with Paul Taylor Dance Company since 1996. That is some stretch. What keeps you motivated…how do you keep going?

MT – It is incredible to dance right away with the company that you dream of dancing for…it’s almost unheard of. I was on a Broadway dance track, and then I saw the company on film in Dance in America on PBS, and I knew that was what I wanted. I had been studying Graham style in high school and college, anything I could do to improve. There happened to be a Paul Taylor Dance Company audition just as I was finishing school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I put all my energy into preparing it. I walked away without a job, but luckily for me, a couple of company dancers decided to leave, and a position in the second company (Taylor 2) opened.

Photo by Lois Greenfield

TLD – What happened when you were six that got you started dancing?

MT – I always liked dancing. My family tells me that anytime there was music on in the house, I would dance. My sisters went to dancing school and I started picking things up. With three other siblings in the school, they made it financially possible for me to attend. People were very kind, and a boy in class was a rarity. We came into the city a lot when I was young to see Broadway shows. I would also take classes around town at the different dance studios.

TLD – So you end up a dancer with Paul Taylor.  You must have traveled the world with the company. Is there a particular memorable moment or moments you would like to share?

MT – Around and around and around…..India, China and all across Europe. It’s been an incredible journey working with the company. It is difficult to pick out moments. Every time I am on the stage, it is the most memorable time. I get to dance with incredible people… the family of dancers, and I have a genius choreographer who keeps me inspired. I am aware of how lucky I am. Not many people get to do what they love.

TLD – And now you’ve landed on the LES in the company’s new studios on Grand Street.  How was the transition from the Soho neighborhood the company had been in for many years?

MT – The new studio space is enormous. Dancers are accustomed to working in less than stellar studio space, so big spaces without pillars are hard to come by.  I feel a great sense of pride in the space because it is so beautiful.  The community comes out to our Community Days, and classes.  Myself, I feel really special and cared for. I love seeing posters in the neighborhood stores, and people coming to our Open House events. It feels like home.

TLD – I understand that you also live on Grand Street now. What made you move into the neighborhood?

MT – I was living in Harlem and came across a great sublet in Seward. I have never lived downtown before and it is life changing, being able to walk to work, or just walking down the street in the neighborhood. It is such a quintessential New York City neighborhood. It has such a rich history. When I walk out the door, I feel like I am in New York City. Other neighborhoods I’ve lived in felt like any city to me, not that vision, that dream I had when I was a kid of what it would be live to live in “the City.” I love the restaurants, the people on the streets. I have an incredible view of the city from my apartment, which I love to wake up to. Being so close to the studio has also been wonderful. I have the keys and can go over there anytime and work out.

TLD – Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots?

Lots of us dancers like to go to Café Petisco on East Broadway. I like Mary Queen of Scots on Allen Street, Barrio Chino on Broome Street—so many!

TLD – Do you have any advice for other six-year-old aspiring dancers?

Love what you do. Do it as much as you can. Take classes, see performances and be inspired. And follow the path as it presents itself. You have to love what you do. Dancing is not the easiest life, but it is satisfying—you have to love it.

You can read Trusnovec’s full bio here.  Paul Taylor Dance Company’s premiere season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center runs March 13 – April 1, 2012. To purchase tickets, call 212.496.0600 or click HERE.


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