Contemporary Choreographer Eryc Taylor Creates the Movement–and the Music–for His Company

Photo by Steven Menendez, courtesy of Taylor

The founder and artistic director of Eryc Taylor Dance not only choreographs for and directs the company he started 11 years ago, he also works with composers to create original music. "I try not to use prerecorded music anymore," says Taylor. "All the music is from original composers." From classical to electronic, he's collaborated with composer Gerald Busby, who created music for Paul Taylor's Runes (1975), and with London-based electronic DJ Swarm Intelligence on a new piece, Cycles.

Experimenting with and finding the right music for choreography has always been a major part of what Taylor calls his "avant-garde style." While earning his BFA in dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Taylor danced with Manfred Fischbeck's Group Motion Company for two years. Fischbeck, a choreographer who's also a composer, saw Taylor's composition skills as a choreographer and encouraged him.

Choreographer Eryc Taylor. Photo by Steven Menendez, courtesy of Taylor

After touring and living in Paris, Taylor moved to New York City and made Merce Cunningham's studio his home. "I started mopping the floors there, got on scholarship and tried to get into the company," says Taylor. He danced with Cunningham's junior company, RUG, for two years, and then accepted an NYU scholarship toward his MFA.

Instead of taking a third year to hone his technique as a dancer, he started several pickup companies with choreographers he'd worked with, before starting ETD. Varying his creative process depending upon the music, Taylor might choreograph to a song or score he's inspired by, or shape the music with the composer to form the work he's envisioning. Even when he's teaching a technique class to his six company members or a master class, he'll sometimes rely on creating the music. "I'll lay down a track in GarageBand and then play it on loop for across-the-floor work," he says. "I'll name each track after a dancer in my company, using them as inspiration for the theme of the movement."

Eryc Taylor Dance's October season runs October 13–15 at the Martha Graham Studio Theater in New York City, premiering the company's newest work, Cycles. For more information and tickets, visit here.

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