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.

Related Articles Around the Web
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.