Beginning March 2, the exemplary artistry of the Paul Taylor Dance Company will be on view at City Center. Starting the next day, discover what goes into creating and perfecting Taylor's work by heading to Film Forum, where Matthew Diamond's Dancemaker screens five times daily through March 16.
The Oscar-nominated documentary explores every nook and cranny of the company's life between December 1996 and late 1997. "This was a wonderful opportunity to make a film about the incredibly unique, somewhat strange American creation called a dance company," Diamond says. "You take an artist like Paul Taylor and force him into the shape of a business. An organization of about 30 people depends on one person for its primary creative life. That set of demands is far more complex than we ever stop to think about.
"I knew that creation would be at the core of the film. When the rubber hits the road, if he doesn't make something interesting for the world to watch, this whole thing will sooner or later fall apart. If that didn't work, nothing else would matter." Fortuitously for the film, the dance that provides its frame is the fierce, brilliant Piazzolla Caldera (one of the works in the City Center season).
Before heading west to a second career as a television director, Diamond whose speech retains a distinctly New York flavor even after a dozen years in Los Angeles danced with Louis Falco and others, and choreographed for his own troupe. He drew on this firsthand experience in many ways, particularly in his decision to shoot rehearsal footage in black and white. "Rehearsal feels drab and tedious; it's not very vivid visually. Then suddenly you get to performance and the colors are bright and the people look fabulous." Despite his insider's perspective, he was eager to make a film that would speak not only to those who already admire Taylor and follow dance. "When I get feedback from nondancers who say, 'What an amazing world!' that's the best praise I can get."
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