After 60 years of choreographic exclusivity, Paul Taylor began commissioning vibrant and dynamic contemporary choreographers to make new dances on his Company, stemming from a belief that our future is rooted in both performing Taylor’s work and in building exciting partnerships with new choreographic voices from diverse backgrounds and styles.
That directive continues onward into the future, with over a dozen new dances commissioned to date. Click here to find out more about these works or scroll below to learn more about the choreographers.
PHOTO CREDITS (top to bottom | left to right) Header photo of Pam Tanowitz in studio with the dancers, Whitney Browne; other photo credits within bio.
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Omar Román De Jesús
Omar Román De Jesús (Bayamón, Puerto Rico) is a recipient of the 2020 Jacob’s Pillow: The Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellowship. He has been commissioned twice by Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico to create work for the International Dance Festival of Puerto Rico, where he was awarded the Ambassador of Dance medal. Omar has won choreographic competitions including the Joffrey Academy of Dance’s Winning Works Choreographic Competition and the Whim W’Him’s Choreographic Shindig. He has received awards including the Audience Award at The Dance Gallery Festival, 1st place prize at the Reverb Dance Festival and the Parsons Dance GenerationNOW Commission for their 2017 Joyce Season. He has also created work for Bruce Wood Dance, Jacob Jonas The Company, and educational institutions like The Ailey School, Kennesaw State University, James Madison University and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. His work was recently presented at Chop Shop: Bodies of Work Contemporary Dance Festival and will be presented at the upcoming: PRISMA International Dance Festival in Panama, the Jerusalem International Choreographic Competition, the Palm Desert Choreography Festival and ENDANZANTE in Medellín, Colombia.
Lauren Lovette personifies the intertwining of dance and choreography, moving seamlessly from one to the other. Her work has been commissioned and performed by leading dance companies and festivals, including the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Vail International Dance Festival, American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Nevada Ballet Theatre, as well as a self-produced evening entirely of her own work in which she also danced, Why It Matters.
She began creating dance as a ballet student, for a 2007 choreographic workshop showing at the School of American Ballet (SAB). Another ballet, for the 2008 workshop, was soon followed by her being selected to create a work for the 2009 New York Choreographic Institute.
In 2016, Lovette, then a relatively new principal dancer, was asked to choreograph her first piece, that then premiered at the New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala. In 2017, she choreographed for the Vail International Dance Festival, the NYCB Fall Season Gala, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. She was awarded the Virginia B. Toulmin Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University in fall of 2018, and a year later created a work for the 2019 Fall Fashion Gala at NYCB. Her work at NYCB is noteworthy, forging a path for other female choreographers in an area of dance that has notably been predominantly male.
Born in Thousand Oaks, CA, Lovette began studying ballet at the age of 11 at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. She enrolled at SAB as a full-time student in 2006. In October 2009, Ms. Lovette became an apprentice with NYCB and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. Promoted to soloist in February 2013 and to principal dancer in June 2015, she stepped down from her position at the company in 2021 to embark on a career devoted to dance and choreography in more equal measure. Ms. Lovette received the Clive Barnes Award for dance in December 2012 and was the 2012-2013 recipient of the Janice Levin Award.
Lauren Lovette by Ruven Afanador
Amy Hall Garner
Amy Hall Garneris a native of Huntsville, Alabama, and a graduate of The Juilliard School. Her work has been praised internationally and commissioned by Ailey II, ABT Studio Company, Collage Dance Collective, The Juilliard School, The Ailey School, Barnard College, The University of the Arts, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Point Park University, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Recently, she has received virtual commissions from BalletX, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process Digital Series, ABT Studio Company, Boulder Ballet and a virtual collaboration between Miami City Ballet and Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. She personally coached Grammy Award winner Beyoncé, providing additional choreography for The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. Theatrical choreography credits include: The Color Purple (Milwaukee Repertory Theater) and Invisible Thread, associate choreographer (Second Stage Theater, NYC). In 2018, she was selected to participate in Alvin Ailey’s New Directions Choreography Lab supported by the Ford Foundation. Garner was one of the first recipients of the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreography of Color Award (now titled Winning Works). She is an adjunct professor at New York University’s New Studio on Broadway at Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, Ms. Garner is a Virginia B. Toulmin Fellow at The Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Originally from Houston TX, Michelle Manzanales is a choreographer, dedicated dance educator of 30 years, and co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance. The Director of Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance since December of 2016, Michelle previously led the organization’s professional company as Rehearsal Director & Artistic Associate for seven seasons.
Her choreography “…isn’t just about one girl’s experience; it applies to everyone, of any gender, and of any culture,” said CriticalDance. Manzanales’ current commissions include new works that will premiere in the Spring of 2022 for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Oregon Ballet Theater, and Montclair State University.
Michelle’s work for Ballet Hispánico, Con Brazos Abiertos, described as a “savvy but deeply sincere meditation on her Mexican American background” (-Marina Harss, New York Times), premiered in 2017 and has since toured worldwide to critical acclaim including its feature at New York City Center’s 2018 Fall for Dance Festival.
Other acclaimed works by Manzanales include If by Chance… which “unspooled dreamily atop and between the tables” of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (-Courtney Escoyne, Dance Magazine), was created and performed for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division 75th anniversary Gala in December 2019. Her homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida, was hailed a “visual masterpiece” by Lucia Mauro of the Chicago Tribune and was described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “gorgeously designed, richly hallucinatory, multi-faceted vision of the artist.” Sugar in the Raw (Azucar Cruda), was also applauded by the Chicago Sun-Times as “a staggering, beautiful, accomplished new work.”
Shawn Lesniak and Company in Michelle Manzanales’s Hope is the Thing with Feathers, photo by Ron Thiele
Peter Chu was born in the Bronx, NY, and raised in Cocoa Beach, FL, where he began training as a competitive gymnast and later furthered his artistry at Dussich Dance Studio. After graduating from The Juilliard School, he performed with BJM Danse, EZdanza, Aszure Barton & Artists, Kidd Pivot, and in Céline Dion’s Las Vegas spectacular, A New Day. In 2008, he formed a Las Vegas project based dance company, chuthis., which showcases his work and that of his collaborators. Mr. Chu has created works for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Staatstheater Augsburg, Charlotte Ballet II, Orlando Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street 2, Giordano Dance Chicago, SYTYCD, Naomi Stikeman’s Çaturn, Houston MET Dance, New Dialect, SALT Contemporary Dance, HSPro, and The Juilliard School, among others. This year, Mr. Chu will be premiering new works for Giordano Dance Chicago, Gibney Dance Company, and a creation for his own company, chuthis.
Recently featured in both Kinfolk and O, The Oprah Magazine, 2018 Princess Grace Statue Award recipient and Lincoln Center Education Artist in Residence, Kyle Abraham is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a 2016 Doris Duke Awardee who began his dance training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before receiving his BFA from Purchase College and his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Abraham is in his forth year as a Visiting Professor in Residence at UCLA and is the Artistic Director of A.I.M, acclaimed NY-based company of dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds.
In 2011, OUT Magazine labeled Kyle Abraham as the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama”.
Portrait of Mr. Abraham by Tatiana Wills.
Robert Kleinendorst and Sean Mahoney in Mr. Abraham’s Only the Lonely, photo by Nina Wurtzel.
Over the past 15 years choreographer Pam Tanowitz has become known for her unflinchingly post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary. Her abstract movement challenges stylistic expectations, conventions of composition as well as the concert-going experience itself.
She was awarded a Bessie award in 2009, Foundation for Contemporary Arts award in 2010, Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, and the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University in 2013-14. In 2016, Tanowitz was the Juried Bessie Award Winner for her work “the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces”, and a recipient of the National Dance Project production grant for her work “New Work for Goldberg Variations”, a collaboration with pianist Simone Dinnerstein. In 2017, Tanowitz was chosen as the first female recipient of the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Cage Cunningham Fellowship.
She has been commissioned by The Joyce Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bard Summerscape Festival, Vail International Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, The Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, Danspace Project, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Chicago Dancing Festival, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Duke Performances, Peak Performances, FSU’s Opening Nights Series, and the Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston. Her work was selected by The New York Times Best of Dance series in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Tanowitz has also created or set work for City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival, The Juilliard School, Ballet Austin, New York Theater Ballet and Saint Louis Ballet; and has been a guest choreographer at Barnard College, Princeton University, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Marymount Manhattan College and Purchase College. She holds dance degrees from The Ohio State University and Sarah Lawrence College, and currently teaches at Rutgers University.
Portrait of Ms. Tanowitz by Brad Paris.
Heather McGinley and Eran Bugge in Ms. Tanowitz’s all at once, photo by Paula Lobo.
At the forefront of modern dance for more than 45 years, internationally acclaimed dance Artist Margie Gillis is one of the most influential Canadian choreographers/dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Margie Gillis was born on July 9th, 1953 in Montreal, Quebec, into a family of athletes where corporeal experience and physical prowess were essential aspects of daily life. In 1981, she founded the Margie Gillis Dance Foundation in Montreal. Over the decades, Margie has created a rich repertory of more than one hundred and fifty creations, solos, duets, and group works, which have been performed around the globe. Establishing herself as an innovative choreographer, she built her career as a solo dancer, distinguishing herself with her naturalistic style and inimitable stage presence, and her iconic long cascading hair. She developed a new form of movement in her unique artistic voice that has influenced generations of choreographers and dancers. She continues to this day to shape the art of movement, earning public and critical recognition for the beauty, authenticity and emotional expression of her creations. Infused with political, social, and cultural themes, Margie Gillis’ philosophy explores the notions of humanity, inner landscape, and our intrinsic relationship to nature, revealing the intimacies of the human psyche. Her repertoire covers a wide array of topics including: feminine consciousness, the natural world, and the transformative process, all merging in a profound and powerful expression of humanism and emotion.
In parallel to her solo work, Margie Gillis collaborates on projects initiated by her peers. She participated in the creation of two of Martha Clarke’s major pieces in which she danced principal roles. She has performed with and choreographed for The Paul Taylor Dance Company – her most recent work, Rewilding, was created in 2019. With Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, she danced the role of Miss Lucy in James Kudelka’s Dracula. She has also been a guest artist with the National Ballet of Canada, Ballet British Columbia and American companies such as Momix and The Bruce Wood Dance Company. She has collaborated with many other important artists in the world of dance, most notably with John Butler, Paul-André Fortier, Pauline Koner, Peggy Baker, Robbie LaFosse, Joao Mauricio, Tedd Robinson, Rina Schenfeld, Paola Styron, Rex Harrington, Risa Steinberg, Veronica Tennant and Emily Molnar. In Canada, she has shared the stage with Quebec soprano, Suzie Leblanc. She toured in Sacred Ellington with the late celebrated opera singer, Jessye Norman.
Margie Gillis has been seen on television and in film on several occasions. Her life and art have been the subjects of several documentary films, the most notable being Veronica Tennant’s Wild Hearts in Strange Times (1996). For her participation in this film, Margie Gillis was awarded the 1998 Gemini Prize for Best Performing Artist on Film. Among other collaborations in film and television, Margie Gillis choreographed the Delilah sequence for John Turturro’s film Romance and Cigarettes (2005) and danced the principal role in José Navas’ choreographic film Adela, mi amor. In 2020, she choreographed and danced in A Shared Solitude, the virtual edition of Guillaume Côté’s Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur.
Margie Gillis also creates for other performing artists. She has choreographed works for companies such as Coleman Lemieux & Company, The Bruce Wood Dance Company and the Alberta Ballet Company. In 2006, the Cirque du Soleil commissioned her for two solos for the Las Vegas production of LOVE, a tribute to the legendary Beatles. The world premiere of M.Body.7, a group piece Margie Gillis created to celebrate her 35th anniversary season, was performed in January 2008, at the Festival Montréal en lumière.
Teaching, mentoring and passing on her legacy to emerging artists are an integral part of her vision. Responding to an overwhelming demand from the dance community, Margie Gillis curated the Legacy Project to share her unique creative history and ensure the continuity of her contribution to modern dance. From there, was born the Margie Gillis – Legacy Project Dance Company, which is now touring with repertoire pieces and new creations.
With her unique approach to teaching, Dancing from the Inside Out, she offers workshops for dance professionals and students alike. As a socially engaged artist, Margie Gillis believes that dance can contribute to positive transformation. She lectures and teaches on the power of movement as a means of problem solving, highlighting the political dimension of dance and art within societies, especially in her work with conflict transformation and reclaiming the body.
Embracing new challenges and opportunities, she has been the spokesperson for OXFAM, the Planned Parenthood Foundation, and a number of organizations dedicated to the fight against AIDS. Margie is also an active defender of environmental causes.
Unwaveringly, she continues to develop her craft through experimenting, teaching, creation, innovation and performance.
Portrait of Ms. Gillis by Desdemona Burgin.
Company dancers in Ms. Gillis’s Rewilding, photo by Whitney Browne.
Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Bryan moved with his family to New York City at the age of nine. While growing up Bryan was exposed to many urban and social dance styles, receiving his formal dance training at La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts.
As a dancer, Bryan went on to perform with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT), and Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot. He has originated roles in and performed in works by notable choreographers including Jirí Kylián, Ohad Naharin and Crystal Pite.
As a choreographer, Bryan is the recipient of the 2017 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award, the 2019 Jacobs Pillow Fellowship Award, and the 2020 prestigious German Der Faust Award in choreography. Bryan’s work has been performed around the world with companies such as the Paul Taylor Company, Netherlands Dance Theater, Ballet Theater Basel, Tanz Lucerne Theater, Hessisches Staatsballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet.
Portrait of Mr. Arias by Joris-Jan Bos.
Michelle Fleet and dancers in Mr. Arias’s The Beauty in Gray, photo by Andrea Mohin.
Award-winning choreographer and director, Doug Varone works in dance, theater, opera, film, and fashion. He is a passionate educator and articulate advocate for dance. By any measure, his work is extraordinary for its emotional range, kinetic breadth and the many arenas in which he works. His New York City-based Doug Varone and Dancers has been commissioned and presented to critical acclaim by leading international venues for close to three decades.
In the concert dance world, Varone has created a body of works globally. Commissions include the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company, Limón Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rambert Dance Company (London), Martha Graham Dance Company, Dancemakers (Canada), Batsheva Dance Company (Israel), Bern Ballet (Switzerland) and An Creative (Japan), among others. In addition, his dances have been staged on more than 75 college and university programs around the country.
In opera, Doug Varone is in demand as both a director and choreographer. Among his four productions at The Metropolitan Opera are Salome with its Dance of the Seven Veils, the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, designed by David Hockney, and Hector Berloiz’s Les Troyens. He has staged multiple premieres and new productions for Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Washington Opera, New York City Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others. His numerous theater credits include choreography for Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theaters across the country. His choreography for the musical Murder Ballad at Manhattan Theater Club earned him a Lortel Award nomination. Film credits include choreography for the Patrick Swayze film, One Last Dance. In 2008, Varone’s The Bottomland, set in the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky, was the subject of the PBS Dance in America: Wolf Trap’s Face of America. Last season he directed and choreographed MASTERVOICES production of Dido and Aeneas at NY’s City Center, starring Tony Award winners Kelli O’Hara and Victoria Clark, alongside the Company. Most recently, he staged Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize winning oratorio, Anthracite Fields featuring the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Westminster Choir.
Varone received his BFA from Purchase College where he was awarded the President’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. Numerous honors and awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an OBIE Award (Lincoln Center’s Orpheus and Euridice), the Jerome Robbins Fellowship at the Bogliasco Institute in Italy, and two individual Bessie Awards. In 2015, he was awarded both a Doris Duke Artist Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Dance Guild. Varone teaches workshops and master classes around the world for dancers, musicians and actors. He is currently on the faculty at Purchase College, teaching composition.
Portrait of Mr. Varone by Matt Furman
Parisa Khobdeh and dancers in Mr. Varone’s Half Life, photo by Paul B. Goode.
Lila York danced with the Paul Taylor Dance Company for twelve years, appearing in over 60 works. Since 1992 she has choreographed works for Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Scottish Ballet, NBA Ballet of Tokyo, Washington Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet West, Colorado Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Orlando Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Connecticut Ballet Theatre, The David Parsons Company, The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, and The Juilliard Dance Ensemble. She recently premiered a full-evening work based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. From 1989 to 1992 Ms. York directed a program for the production of new choreography at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in English literature.
Portrait of Ms. York by Karsten Moran.
Eran Bugge and dancers in Ms. York’s Continuum, photo by Whitney Browne.
Doug Elkins is a two-time New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award-winning choreographer and 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Creative Arts Fellow. He began his dance career as a B-Boy, touring the world with break dance groups New York Dance Express and Magnificent Force, among others. Doug is a recipient of significant choreographic commissions and awards from the NEA, National Performance Network, Jerome Foundation, Choo-San Goh & H. Robert Magee Foundation, Dance Magazine Foundation, Metropolitan Life/American Dance Festival, Hartford Foundation, Arts International, The Greenwall Foundation and The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. In 1994, he received a Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal, sharing the stage with author Philip Roth and photographer Nan Goldin. In 2006, he was honored in New York City by the Martha Hill Award for Career Achievement; in 2010, he was honored in Boston with an Elliot Norton Award for Choreography (for Doug Elkins & Friends’ Fräulein Maria, a loving deconstruction of The Sound of Music).
Doug has taught and choreographed extensively in the US and Europe and has created original work for Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, Flying Karamazov Brothers, MaggioDanza, Pennsylvania Ballet, Union Dance and CanDoCo of London, as well as a number of university dance companies and the renowned Mini & Maxi of Holland. His theater work includes collaborations with Joanne Akalaitis and Philip Glass, Robert Woodruff, Pavel Dubrusky, Annie Hamburger, Molly Smith, Craig Lucas, David Henry Hwang, Barbara Karger and Michael Preston (including Fräulein Maria), Anne Kauffman, Arin Arbus and, most recently Janos Szasz for The Master & Margarita at Bard SummerScape. A graduate of SUNY/Purchase, Elkins received his MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ADF in 2007. His tenure at The Beacon School on the upper west side of Manhattan is the subject of Where the Dance Is, a short film by Marta Renzi. In fall 2020, he joins the dance faculty of Wesleyan University.
Portrait of Mr. Elkins by Christopher Duggan.
James Samson, Michael Trusnovec, Heather McGinley, and Parisa Khobdeh in Mr. Elkins’s The Weight of Smoke, photo by Paul B. Goode.
Larry Keigwin is a native New Yorker and choreographer who has danced his way from the Metropolitan Opera to downtown clubs to Broadway and back. He founded KEIGWIN + COMPANY in 2003 and as Artistic Director, Keigwin has led the company as it has performed at theaters and dance festivals around the world. KEIGWIN + COMPANY presents Keigwin’s electrifying brand of contemporary dance on a myriad of stages including The Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theater, Works & Process at the Guggenheim and New York City Center, among others. Since his company’s premiere performance at Joyce Soho in 2003, Keigwin has created dozens of dances for himself and his dancers, as well as for Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Martha Graham Dance Company, New York Choreographic Institute, The Juilliard School, Vail International Dance Festival, and many others. His work in musical theater includes choreography for the 2011 production of the musical Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and the off-Broadway production of Rent, for which he received the 2011 Joe A. Callaway Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation. In 2013, Keigwin choreographed the Broadway musical If/Then starring Idina Menzel.
Keigwin has designed and choreographed special events including Fashion’s Night Out: The Show in New York, which was produced by Vogue magazine and featured more than 150 of the industry’s top models. Keigwin also has mounted several versions of Bolero, his acclaimed large-scale community project that has been commissioned by 12 communities across the country. Keigwin has created Keigwin Kabaret, a fusion of modern dance, vaudeville, and burlesque presented by the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub and by Symphony Space. As a dancer, Keigwin has danced at the Metropolitan Opera in Doug Varone’s Le Sacre Du Printemps and Julie Taymor’s The Magic Flute, in addition to his work with Mark Dendy (receiving a Bessie Award in 1998 for his performance in Dream Analysis), Jane Comfort, John Jasperse, Doug Elkins, Zvi Gotheiner, and David Rousseve. He appeared in the Broadway show Dance of the Vampires, the Off-Broadway show The Wild Party and Julie Taymor’s Oscar-nominated film Across the Universe. He is a co-founder of the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, a multi-disciplinary festival designed to increase cultural opportunities in the region, as well as provide creative residencies to young, emerging choreographers.