The Washington Post has a great piece on dancer and choreographer Paul Taylor, whose dance company has been in operation for 56 years, and who celebrates his 80th birthday this summer. The profile by Sarah Kaufman captures the essence of one of America's more iconic dance figures.
We're finally face-to-face with him, in some retro dimension. It's about 1955 in Taylor's little nook. Your run-of-the-mill office cubicle is more spacious. But Taylor, who will turn 80 on July 29, looks at home here, sunken into a chair at a narrow desk, puffing away on a discount cigarette. Gray-haired and sporting oversize glasses, he's in Eisenhower-era weekend attire: tan slacks, sturdy shoes and a blue work shirt, well worn. It's a shirt with character: A pack of cigarettes and a lighter crowd the chest pocket, and on the back, Taylor embroidered a picture of his first dog, Deedee ("damn dog").
He had been reading a crumbling paperback of "Great American Short Stories"; now he pushes Steinbeck, Faulkner and Welty over by a mug of coffee, more cigarettes and a decapitated beer can full of pencils.
Taylor lives the spare aesthetic that you see everywhere here. He rises well before dawn and turns in before sunset. He walks to work from his apartment near the East River. He's a self-described cheapskate. In his flat and in the rustic Long Island cottage he's owned since the 1960s (bought back in Deedee's day), what furniture he doesn't drag in off the streets he has made himself, along with odd and witty sculptures of found objects.
"I've always known not how to make money, but how to cut corners and save money," he says. "That's one reason this company has lasted so long."
Taylor values simplicity, especially after his turbulent beginnings.