Paul Taylor's Taylor 2 dance company performing April 17 in Northampton - ACADEMY OF MUSIC


Members of Taylor 2 performing “Esplanade,” one of the pieces on the program April 17 at the Academy of Music in Northampton. (Photo by Tom Caravaglia, courtesy of the Paul Taylor Dance Company)
By Ken Ross | Follow on Twitter on April 09, 2015 at 4:30 AM, updated April 09, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Some dance fans take Paul Taylor for granted.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how beautiful and timeless many of Taylor’s creations are since this iconic choreographer has become such an established figure during the last five decades.

But without Paul Taylor, the world of modern dance would likely look very different.

A former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Taylor began creating his own dances in 1954. The fluid simplicity of many of his best known works might seem straightforward nowadays to many people. But Taylor’s athletic pieces were just as radical as Twyla Tharp or Merce Cunningham in their own charming, playful way.

Taylor’s dances served as a critical link between the dramatic transition from classic ballet to modern dance in the second half of the 20th Century.

Specifically, Taylor demonstrated in dance after dance that an artist could be innovative without sacrificing his childlike-sense of awe and wonder.

Works like “Aureole” and “Esplanade” and “Arden Court” celebrate the beauty of life.

Taylor’s creations also often illustrate the complexity of life, especially in darker pieces like “Sculdorama” and “Cloven Kingdom” and “Last Look.”

And best of all, the 84-year-old choreographer continues to create new works and push the dance company in new directions.

Last year, Taylor announced that he was transforming the Paul Taylor Dance Company into Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance. The decision to reinvent the company and perform his works along with those by other choreographers was done in an effort preserve the company beyond Taylor’s lifetime, he explained in an interview with The New York Times last year.

“I prefer to think I’m going to live forever, but of course that’s not possible,” he said. “So at some point, they’re going to not let me make dances anymore. So I have to think ahead.”

Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance opened its inaugural season last month at Lincoln Center in New York.

Fortunately, you can do more than just read about Taylor’s magnificent works. You can experience them in person closer to home when Taylor 2 performs on Friday, April 17 at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Taylor created Taylor 2 in 1993. This smaller, second company has six dancers and exclusively performs Taylor’s works throughout the world.

In Northampton, Taylor 2 will perform “Aureole,” “Esplanade” and “The Uncommitted,” the 134th dance created by Taylor in 2011.

“The Uncommitted” has a much more somber, austere tone than the other two works on the program in Northampton. But there’s no mistaking Taylor’s spark and voracious appetite for life. Even when the mood turns dark on stage, you can’t look away from Taylor’s spellbinding movements.