Visual/Media Arts
November 1, 2022
Through the haze of cigarette smoke, a young Taylor compares dance to life and poetry: You don't always spell everything out.

Art is made inside those spaces of imagination, of dreams given form through the bodies of dancers. In fact, it's up to the dancers to weasel inside those spaces to retrieve the moves.

Kate Geis' film "Creative Domain" on Paul Taylor's creative process,  pulls the curtain aside, revealing the magic of making a dance. Although much of that process rests inside the creator, the physicalization of those ideas emerge through dancers' interpretations. A curious camera roams inside the nascent dance, swerving from the snippets of rehearsal, to conversations about the choreography's intent and the toll it takes on the dancers' bodies.

At the age of 84 (the film was produced in 2014), slim and stooped, and still smoking, Paul Taylor dominates the rehearsal room. With the dancers circled around him, Taylor calls out the names of those who will be "his colors" for the new piece. A bit nerve wracking, the selected performers stay for rehearsal.

A former dancer with Martha Graham, Taylor only references her when mischievously describing previous experiences in rehearsal rooms when "a" choreographer spent precious rehearsal time poetically explaining every second of the choreography. 

Preferring action to too many words, Taylor admiringly points to Balanchien who didn't waste a second in the rehearsal room. Later, when musing on the nature of inspiration,  Taylor admits he borrowed from a section of choreographer Antony Tudor's mournful "Dark Elegies."

In front of our eyes, Taylor constructs the form and architecture of a dance. Once completed, he invites the composer, Peter Elyakim Taussig, to a viewing.  Taussig is amazed by Taylor's intuitiveness and how the dance falls into shape with the score.

The final details are shaped by Taylor's longtime collaborators, lighting designer Jennifer Tipton and costume designer Santo Loquasto. For those who wonder what it takes to make a dance, this draws you close to the magical process and inside Paul Taylor's remarkable choreographic orbit.

Gies' astute direction along with Tom Hurwitz's sensitive camera work and well paced editing makes for a thoughtful view into the life of a dance.

First Run Features presents Paul Taylor Creative Domain and the documentary is available for streaming and on DVD.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis November 1.

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