The Return of a Modern Dance Icon

–by Andrew Edmonson, Houston Ballet Director of Marketing & PR

Modern dance legend Paul Taylor is beloved by the international dance community, but he has a special place in the heart of Houston Ballet.


Artists of Paul Taylor Dance Company; Sunset

The winner of a Kennedy Center honor, a MacArthur Genius Award, an Emmy, and the subject of the riveting Oscar-nominated documentary Dancemaker, Mr. Taylor has bestrode the modern dance world like a colossus for the last five decades, choreographing a series of brilliant works.

Houston audiences will have their first opportunity in a decade to see Mr. Taylor’s company performing three of his classic works (Airs, Esplanade, and Sunset) on Saturday, October 12 at 8 pm at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, presented by Society for the Performing Arts. An added bonus is that the performance will feature live music by Houston’s Mercury.

Houston Ballet has had a special relationship with Mr. Taylor for over two decades, commissioning two works from him and sharing the stage of The Kennedy Center with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003 in a special tribute to this visionary American artist.

In the beginning Paul Swen IMG

Paul Taylor with Artists of Houston Ballet (2003); Photo by Paul Swen

In 1991, Mr. Taylor created Company B, one of the most popular works in the world choreographed in the 1990’s and the most popular original premiere in Houston Ballet’s history. Set to nine irresistible songs by The Andrews Sisters, the work premiered at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and was greeted by a thunderous ovation by an audience that included President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. The New York Times pronounced it “an instant masterpiece” and “quite simply, the best dance premiere of the season,” observing “Company B hits as deep in the gut as it dazzles the eye with its outpouring of spirited choreography.”

The next day, the President invited Houston Ballet’s dancers to the private quarters of the White House. Company B quickly became a signature work for Houston Ballet, and the company performed it from Los Angeles to Moscow (at the Bolsohi Theater) to Beijing. Companies across the world went on to take the work into their repertories.

Paul Taylor - P. unknown IMG

Paul Taylor

In April 2003, Houston Ballet returned to The Kennedy Center again to premiere another work by Mr. Taylor, In the Beginning, a beguiling, comic re-telling of the Creation story, featuring four Adams and five Eves. First Lady Laura Bush attended the opening night performance, and welcomed the dancers to a luncheon she hosted at the White House the day after the premiere.

When Mr. Taylor brings his company to Houston on Sat., October 12, longtime Houston Ballet watchers will have a delicious opportunity to compare and contrast the different ways that Houston Ballet and Mr. Taylor’s dancers perform one of Mr. Taylor’s masterworks, Sunset. In 1991, Houston Ballet performed Mr. Taylor’s Sunset as part of its Cullen Contemporary Series.

Society for the Performing Arts presents The Paul Taylor Dance Company for one night only on Saturday, October 12 at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

AIrs (1280x853)Artists of Paul Taylor Dance Company; Airs

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