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Sep 10, 2015

For all of my pop culture tastes – superhero movies, detective novels, losing sports teams, loud sitcoms – there has always been a place in my heart for opera and dance. I know, I know; my wife doesn’t believe it either. Still, it’s true.

ROBERT ABERLIN podcast excerpt: "Getting Paul Taylor to agree to this documentary took me about four years. He would often say to me, ‘Who would ever be interested? Nobody will be interested in this! Why do you want to do this?'"

Being able to sing opera is an incredible gift, as is the opportunity to see it performed. Seeing Luciano Pavarotti live in 1984 sealed that. And when it comes to dance, while I’ve always admired the physical skills of the dancers – particularly modern dance – the process of creating the dance has always fascinated me. I first realized my interest in this amazing art while watching the 1985 film White Nights starring the unlikely team of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines. Which brings me to a fascinating new dance documentary, Paul Taylor: Creative Domain.

KATE GEIS podcast excerpt: "Dance is often nonverbal. There is a moment when the choir is seated on each other in a row. Paul, in his mind, had a sense of what it would look like. Once he actually had the dancers in front of him, doing it, he realized how funny it looked, so he started laughing. And then the dancers all started laughing. Paul said, 'It's unnatural.' Even he can find the humor in those moments."

How does a new dance ever develop? Ever wondered? I have.

This film takes viewers somewhere they never expected to be: inside the Paul Taylor Dance Company rehearsal studio as the legendary Taylor’s 133rd dance, "Three Dubious Memories," takes shape. Taylor – who is in his 80s – has never allowed cameras to capture his creation before and it is astounding to see. Not only do we see him teaching precise movements to his company and fixing his 2-D concepts to the actual capabilities of his 3-D dancers, but he allows us into his dance notebooks – with the men and women as Xs and Os – which even the most experienced NFL football coaches could only marvel at. Joining me to discuss this rare peek behind the curtain are the director, Kate Geis, and executive producer, Robert Aberlin.

Key interview moments:

5:00 Fighting to get Paul Taylor’s buy-in to record the creation of a new dance from start to finish;

7:57 Taylor plots his dances in detailed notebooks, plotting out moves the way an NFL football coach does, right down to Xs and Os;

19:50 Sometimes even Taylor sees the absurdity in what he asks his dancers to do.

Paul Taylor: Creative Domain WebsiteFacebook • Vimeo