PTDC

Sunday, May 30, 1954. President Eisenhower was in the midst of a counteroffensive against Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his charges that communists had infiltrated the highest levels of American government. The United States, Great Britain and France were discussing an accord that would divide Vietnam into two countries, North and South. Gil Hodges homered to lead Brooklyn to a 5-3 victory at the Polo Grounds. And at 8:40 in the evening at the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan, a 23-year-old dancer and five colleagues gave the first public performance of his choreography, a dance called Jack and the Beanstalk. While the dance soon faded from memory, the choreographer became a giant – the youngest member of the pantheon that created American modern dance, and one of history’s most celebrated artists. Laura Shapiro once wrote in Newsweek, “Short course in modern dance: in the beginning there was Martha Graham, who changed the face of an art form and discovered a new world. Then there was Merce Cunningham, who stripped away the externals and showed us the heart of movement. And then there was Paul Taylor, who let the sun shine in.”

The Paul Taylor Dance Company and Taylor 2, created in 1993, have traveled the globe many times over, bringing Mr. Taylor’s ever-burgeoning repertoire to theaters and venues of every size and description in cultural capitals, on college campuses and in rural communities – and often to places modern dance had never been before. The Taylor Company has performed in more than 540 cities in 64 countries, representing the United States at arts festivals in more than 40 countries and touring extensively under the aegis of the U.S. Department of State. In 1997 the Company toured throughout India in celebration of that nation’s 50th Anniversary. Its 1999 engagement in Chile was named the Best International Dance Event of 1999 by the country’s Art Critics’ Circle. In the summer of 2001 the Company toured in the People’s Republic of China and performed in six cities, four of which had never seen American modern dance before. In the spring of 2003 the Company mounted an award-winning four-week, seven-city tour of the United Kingdom. The Company’s performances in China in November 2007 mark its fourth tour there. While continuing to garner international acclaim, the Paul Taylor Dance Company performs more than half of each touring season in cities throughout the United States. The Company’s season in 2005, marking its 50th Anniversary, was attended by more than 25,000 people. In celebration of the Anniversary and 50 years of creativity by one of the most extraordinary artists the world has ever known, the Taylor Foundation presented Mr. Taylor’s works in all 50 States between March 2004 and November 2005. That tour underscored the Taylor Company’s historic role as one of the early touring companies of American modern dance.

Beginning with its first television appearance for the Dance in America series in 1978, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has appeared on PBS in nine different programs, including the 1991 Emmy Award-winning Speaking in Tongues and The Wrecker’s Ball – with Company B, Funny Papers, and A Field of Grass – which was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1997. In 1999 the PBS American Masters series aired Dancemaker, the Academy Award nominated documentary about Mr. Taylor and the Taylor Company, which is available on home video.

Bettie De Jong, Rehearsal Director

Photo: Paul B. Goode

BETTIE DE JONG (Rehearsal Director) was born in Sumatra, Indonesia, and in 1946 moved to Holland, where she continued her early training in dance and mime. Her first professional engagement was with the Netherlands Pantomime Company. After coming to New York City to study at the Martha Graham School, she performed with the Graham Company, the Pearl Lang Company, John Butler and Lucas Hoving, and was seen on CBS-TV with Rudolf Nureyev in a duet choreographed by Paul Taylor. Ms. de Jong joined the Taylor Company in 1962. Noted for her strong stage presence and long line, she was Mr. Taylor’s favorite dancing partner and, as Rehearsal Director, has been his right arm for the past 35 years. In November 2007 she received the Dance Magazine Award.

Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

PTDC Dancers

Photo: Paul B. Goode

MICHAEL TRUSNOVEC from Yaphank, New York, began dancing at age six, graduated from the Long Island High School for the Arts, and received a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  Professionally, he has danced with Taylor 2, Cortez & Co. Contemporary/Ballet, CorbinDances, and in works by Christopher Gillis and Margie Gillis. Mr. Trusnovec was a 1992 YoungArts Awardee and Presidential Scholar in the Arts.  In 2006, he was a recipient of a Bessie Award for his Body of Work during the 2005-06 Taylor season, and in 2016, honored with the distinction of “Positano Premia La Danza” Dancer of the Year. Fall 1998 marked his debut with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

ROBERT KLEINENDORST is originally from Roseville, Minnesota. He graduated from Luther College in 1995 with a B.A. in voice and dance. After moving to New York, he danced with the Gail Gilbert Dance Ensemble, and Cortez & Co. Mr. Kleinendorst also performed with Anna Sokolow’s Players Projects at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Having studied at The Taylor School since 1996, he joined the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company in August 1998. Mr. Kleinendorst joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Fall 2000.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

JAMES SAMSON is a native of Jefferson City, Missouri where he began his dance training at age eight and later became a competitive gymnast. He studied dance at Missouri State University where he earned a B.F.A. in dance with a minor in business. He went on to study as a scholarship student with the David Parsons New Arts Festival, Pilobolus Intensive Workshop, and the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive, where he was selected to perform in Paul Taylor’s Airs set by Linda Kent. Mr. Samson’s professional career has included Charleston Ballet Theatre, New England Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and the Amy Marshall Dance Company. He joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in February 2001.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

MICHELLE FLEET grew up in the Bronx and began her dance training at age four. She attended Ballet Hispanico of New York during her training at Talent Unlimited High School. There she was a member of The Ballet Hispanico Jr. Company. Ms. Fleet earned her B.F.A. in dance from Purchase College in 1999 and received her M.B.A. in business management in 2006. She has performed in works by Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Kevin Wynn, and Carlo Menotti. Ms. Fleet joined the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company in Summer 1999. She made her debut with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in September 2002.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

PARISA KHOBDEH, born in Dallas, Texas, trained with Kathy Chamberlain and Gilles Tanguay. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A in Dance Performance and Computer Science from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While a scholarship student there, and at the American Dance Festival as a Tom Adams Scholar, she worked with choreographers Robert Battle, Judith Jamison, Donald McKayle and Shen Wei, among others. She also attended Paul Taylor and Martha Graham dance intensives in New York City. She made her debut with the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the American Dance Festival in Summer 2003. In 2006 she made her New York theatrical debut at the Stella Adler Studios in the lead role of Lanford Wilson’s play, Burn This, and was featured in Dance Magazine as a performer “On The Rise.” She was featured on the cover of that magazine’s December 2012 issue, and in October 2015 she penned an article for it entitled “Why I Dance.” She restaged Paul Taylor’s The Word at The College of William and Mary in 2013 and continues teaching masterclasses at universities, schools, and festivals around the world. She has choreographed dances to benefit human rights organizations and for independent films. Her most recent ballet, Traces, premiered in New York City for an arts fundraiser benefiting the Children of Bellevue Hospital. In 2016 she performed in David Grenke’s Vespers at the University of California, Davis, and will appear in Doug Elkins’s film, A Hundred Indecisions, in 2017. Her body of work for the Taylor Company earned her a nomination for a 2016 New York Dance and Performance Award (“The Bessie”).
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

SEAN MAHONEY, born and raised in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, began his life in dance at age 12 by attending Princeton Ballet School on scholarship; that year he also started training with Fred Knecht. In 1991 he began as an apprentice at American Repertory Ballet (ARB) and became a featured dancer with the company, which he rejoined in 2000 under the direction of Graham Lustig. Mr. Mahoney was chosen as one of the first members of the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company in 1993 just after completing high school. He has danced for David Parsons, Alex Tressor and Geoffrey Doig-Marx, and performed in Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular. He rejoined Taylor 2 in 2002. Mr. Mahoney is the son of a construction worker who provided him with the skills he uses to assist with set construction for the Company. As a musician, he accompanies classes at The Taylor School and is a member of the band Heroes Die.  He made his debut with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in January 2004.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

ERAN BUGGE is from Oviedo, Florida where she began her dance training at the Orlando Ballet School. She went on to study at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford under the direction of Peggy Lyman, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in ballet pedagogy in 2005. She attended The Taylor School and the 2004 and 2005 Taylor Summer Intensives. Ms. Bugge has performed in works by Amy Marshall, Katie Stevinson-Nollet and Jean Grand-Maître. She was also a member of Full Force Dance Theatre and the Adam Miller Dance Project. She joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Fall 2005.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

LAURA HALZACK grew up in Suffield, Connecticut and began her dance training at the age of four with Brenda Barna. She furthered her training at The School of the Hartford Ballet and studied at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. Ms. Halzack graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in History from the University of New Hampshire in 2003. She then studied at the Hartt School and at The Taylor School’s 2004 Summer Intensive. She has performed with the Amy Marshall Dance Company and Syren Modern Dance and has enjoyed teaching in her home state. Ms. Halzack studied at The Taylor School for two years before joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Summer 2006.
Read TaylorNotes Interview HERE.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

JAMIE RAE WALKER began dancing at age three in her home town of Levittown, Pennsylvania. As a young dancer she performed with American Repertory Ballet while extensively studying ballet and Graham techniques. In 1991 she continued her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and in 1992 was awarded a scholarship by Violette Verdy at Northeast Regional Dance Festival. Upon graduating high school Ms. Walker was invited to join Miami City Ballet where she performed principal and soloist roles in Balanchine and Taylor dances from 1994 to 2000. In 2001 joined the original cast of Twyla Tharp’s Broadway show, Movin’ Out, while simultaneously studying on full scholarship at The Taylor School. Ms. Walker joined Taylor 2 in Fall 2003, and became a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Summer 2008.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

MICHAEL APUZZO grew up in North Haven, Connecticut. He studied Economics and Theater at Yale University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2005. Growing up in musical theater, he began his formal dance training in high school, then danced and choreographed in undergraduate companies. After being dance captain for an original production of Miss Julie choreographed by Peter Pucci, Mr. Apuzzo debuted professionally at the Yale Repertory Theater. He has since performed in numerous musicals at equity theaters across the country and in the National Tour of Twyla Tharp’s Broadway show, Movin’ Out. He is a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, author of Flying Through Yellow, certified personal trainer, and co-producer of the new Hamptons charity event, Dancers For Good. Mr. Apuzzo joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Fall 2008.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

MICHAEL NOVAK was raised in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, where he started dancing at age ten. He trained on full scholarship at The University of the Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet. After graduating Columbia University with a B.A. in Dance Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa he studied at Springboard Danse Montreal under Alexandra Wells and Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. He has performed works by Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio and Vaslav Nijinsky, and has danced with Gibney Dance and the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. Mr. Novak began studying at the Taylor School in 2008 and participated in the Taylor Summer Intensive before joining the Company in Summer 2010.  His debut season earned him a nomination for the 2011 Clive Barnes Foundation Dance Award.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

HEATHER McGINLEY grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Through her early training with Lisbeth Brown she attained a Diploma in the Cecchetti Method of Classical Ballet. She graduated from Butler University with a B.F.A. in dance performance in 2005. Ms. McGinley was a member of Graham II for two seasons and went on to perform with the Martha Graham Dance Company from 2008 to 2011. With the Graham Company she toured Italy in the original cast of Antonio Calenda’s Looking for Picasso, a dance and theater piece featuring restaged classic Graham ballets. She participated in the 2010 Intensives at The Taylor School, and joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring 2011.

Dirty Sugar Photography

GEORGE SMALLWOOD is a native of New Orleans. He earned a B.F.A. degree in dance performance and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an International Focus from Southern Methodist University. He has been a member of the Parsons Dance Company, where he performed the signature solo Caught, and the Martha Graham and Lar Lubovitch companies. As co-founder of Battleworks he performed, taught master classes and re-staged Robert Battle’s works across the country. He has been in regional productions of Spamalot, Chicago, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, Crazy for You, The Music Man, White Christmas, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and 42nd Street. He first joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring 2011 and rejoined in Summer 2012.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

CHRISTINA LYNCH MARKHAM grew up in Westbury, New York and began dancing with Lori Shaw, and continued at Holy Trinity High School under the direction of Catherine Murphy. She attended Hofstra University on scholarship and performed works by Cathy McCann, Karla Wolfangle, Robin Becker, and Lance Westergard. During college she also trained at The Taylor School, and attended the Company’s Summer Intensive Program. After graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2004, she danced with the Amy Marshall Dance Company, Stacie Nelson and The Dance Theater Company. She joined the Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company in Summer 2008 and the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring 2013.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

MADELYN HO is from Sugar Land, Texas, where she began dancing at Kinard Dance School and later trained with BalletForte under the artistic direction of Michael Banigan. She graduated from Harvard College with a BA in Chemical and Physical Biology. While there, she was awarded the Artist Development Fellowship and attended the Taylor School Winter Intensive. She was a member of Taylor 2 from 2008 to 2012 and left to attend Harvard Medical School, during which time she was a guest artist for Alison Cook Beatty Dance and performed with Urbanity Dance. She joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring 2015.

Photo: Whitney Browne
Photo: Whitney Browne

KRISTIN DRAUCKER was born in Washington DC and grew up in York, Pennsylvania. She began her training at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under Marcia Dale Weary. In 2005 she was awarded a Fellowship to study Horton and Graham at The Ailey School. Since moving to New York City she has danced with Michael Mao Dance, ArmitageGone!Dance, New Chamber Ballet, and at Bard’s Summerscape in Les Huguenots. In 2009, she joined the 50th Anniversary International Tour of West Side Story and in 2010 performed in Tino Sehgal’s KISS at The Guggenheim Museum. In 2014 she began creating dances and has shown her work in New York, Philadelphia and as part of the LaMAMA Umbria Festival in Spoleto, Italy. She joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in Winter 2017.

Photo: Tom Caravaglia

LEE DUVENECK grew up in Arlington, Texas, where he trained with Anne Oswalt and Gwen Price. He earned his B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University in 2010, where he studied with Taylor alumnae Ruth Andrien and jazz dance icon Danny Buraczeski. While in New York, he has danced for Annmaria Mazzini, Mari Meade and Jessica Gaynor. Mr. Duveneck joined Taylor 2 in 2012, and joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Summer 2017.

Photo: Whitney Browne

ALEX CLAYTON grew up in Louisville, KY. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Dance with a minor in Visual Arts from Stephens College in 2013. He was a Graham 2 company member from 2014 to 2015. He also performed with companies including 10 Hairy Legs, Abarukas Project, Curet Performance Project, Performa15 and Project44. He served as Rehearsal Assistant for “Taylor Company Commissions” choreographer Lila York when she created Continuum in 2016. Mr. Clayton joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Summer 2017.