Paul Taylor Dance Company performs in IC


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Paul Taylor's dancers possess a different way of moving, carving their bodies through space as if they are swimming through something denser than air. Their dancing is musical, a full-bodied experience.

"What draws me to working with this company is that perfect combination of physicality, musicality, and pure raw emotion," said Michael Trusnovec, 37, a dancer in his 14th season with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The New York troupe will bring its distinctive style and legendary presence to Iowa City at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the West High Auditorium, 2901 Melrose Ave.

The production, sponsored by Hancher, will feature an evening of energy, cheekiness, and insightful, thought-provoking choreography. Hancher Programming Director Jacob Yarrow said the company is special because of its wide impact.

"It has a reach because of the longevity of the company," he said. "People who had been members of the company and really knew Paul Taylor's work have gone on to be important artistic voices themselves."

The company is now in its 55th year, and it continues to thrill and engage audiences all over the world. Taylor, the original artistic voice of the program, is one of the creators of modern dance — an important and prolific voice in the dance world. Though he is 80 years old, he still choreographs work that is as powerful and poignant as his early work.

"He is a living legend," said Michelle Fleet, 34, who has performed with the company since 2002. "He's part of American history when it comes to dance and with modern dance becoming an American art form. It's a privilege for us to be a part of that history, working with him."

Trusnovec and Fleet said that they are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such an iconic figure in the dance world. And while most of the time the company members feel like a family, there are moments when working with such an important dance figure can be a bit intimidating.

"It can be incredibly uncomfortable at times," Trusnovic said. "You feel a little bit naked working that way, because you're just there, and you have to be this body for him, and you want to please Paul and make a great dance with him, so you have to get past that and just focus on working in that moment and making the dance."

The company will perform Brandenburg, with music by J.S. Bach, The Uncommitted, which is in its world première season and features music by Arvo Pärt, and Company B, with pieces sung by the Andrews Sisters.

Even in this small slice of Taylor's choreography, his variety and range is visible. Fleet said working with diverse movement means looking inside herself to connect with each dance.

"There's so much to his work, you have to be able to visit that within yourself and not be afraid and take chances, which is what's so enjoyable about working for Paul," she said.

The dancers say that each performer in the company has distinct talents that Taylor highlights through his choreography.

"Each person in this company is so very different, and that is what he loves so much about his company," Fleet said. "He's able to pull from many different avenues when it comes to choreographing different pieces. You feel like you're working for 20 different choreographers, but it's just Paul."

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