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Thoroughly Modern

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Paul Taylor's story is incredible. From the beginning, the celebrated dancer and choreographer defied conventional wisdom. Trained as an athlete and visual artist, he never studied dance until he got to college. And in this arena, where only the dainty survive, this large, powerfully built man excelled, capturing the full attention of modern-dance pioneer Martha Graham, who became his instructor and friend.

Taylor, who started his first dance company in 1954, was inspired by modern artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg who celebrated common objects and gestures in their paintings and sculpture. His earliest danceworks celebrated ordinary movements such as looking at a wristwatch or waiting for a bus, but over time, he developed an aggressive and athletic yet painterly style, referencing everything from the most minimal modernism to the most benign aspects of the Broadway musical. His longevity and limitless versatility have led numerous observers to speculate — with few harsh detractors — that Taylor is currently the world's greatest living choreographer.

On Thursday, October 18th, at 7 p.m., Germantown Performing Arts Centre will screen Dancemaker, Matthew Diamond's Oscar-nominated documentary about Taylor, featuring footage of his early work with Graham's company. The latest incarnation of Taylor's own company will make its move at GPAC on Saturday, October 20th.

Paul Taylor Dance Company, Saturday, October 20th, 8 p.m. Germantown Performing Arts Centre. Tickets start at $30. Admission to Thursday's film is free.

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