When Lila York joined the Paul Taylor Company in the early 1970s, the first work she danced was titled "Esplanade."
The 1972 piece was also Taylor's first work as a choreographer after he stopped dancing, and it was not a typical dance number. "The movements were so pedestrian," York told the Deseret Morning News. "This was something different in the modern-dance world. Paul used everyday movements. He didn't use dance steps. And that shocked a lot of people."
The work, said York, was supposed to look like "real people" on stage. "It wasn't created to look like nine dancers dancing a 35-minute production. It was supposed to look like nine people doing whatever they do in half an hour."
York, who still considers herself a Taylor Dancer, said she was asked by the company to come to Brigham Young University to set "Esplanade," so she spent 10 days working with the students. "Originally the work was set on myself and my pals. And Paul matched up the characters to our personalities and dancing styles. So when I set the work on BYU, I did what Paul did. I tried to match the movements with the dancers' styles."
Working with the BYU dancers has given her hope for the future of modern dance. "There was a time when modern dance was suffering because of a generation of dancers who didn't feel like they had to work hard for the spotlight. They, and I'm generalizing, had an air about them that seemed to say 'give us what we deserve,' without working for it.
"When I work with younger companies, such as the students at BYU, I can see fire again. They are eager to dance. They are eager to learn the correct steps. And they listen to me. What's more is the fact that they know making a living in dance is going to be hard. That's heartening."York said she has a sentimental connection with "Esplanade" and feels the work ranks in the top five of all of Taylor's pieces. "It is one of his most important works. He did it after he stopped dancing and was able to explore more on movement in life."
If you go . . .
What: "Dance in
Concert," The Dancer's Company
Where: The deJong
Concert Hall, Brigham Young University, Provo
When: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.;
Saturday, 2 p.m.
How much: $10
Phone: 801-422-4322Web: artxtix.byu.edu
E-mail: [email protected]