UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) — The late dancer Paul Taylor left behind a rich legacy when he died four years ago at the age of 88.
The modern dance company that bears his name lives on as well as The Taylor School.
He was deeply committed to education, and the Paul Taylor Foundation continues to work with New York public schools to introduce young people to the magic of dance.
I went to meet some of the young people involved at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center where the Taylor Company is in the middle of its current season of performances.
The foundation has several ways for kids to get involved, but let’s start with a program called Arnholt Tier 3.
I first met Jody Arnholt who explained to me that “the idea was quite simple: bring school children to Lincoln Center to see Paul Taylor Modern Dance, put them in a seat at Lincoln Center to see a large company of American dance”.
she and her husband John fund the initiative that bears their name. “Why not? Because every child deserves a dance education!”
It’s called Level 3 because it’s the section of the theater where young people can sit and, thanks to the Arnholts, not have to pay a penny.
One student told me, “Getting free tickets to a show opened my eyes to this new style of dance,” and senior high school student Lyric Penland added that it was “a way to feel free”. Ariel Strochkova added, “I went with my mum and we were so excited to see it. We were like it was awesome.”
I even met students, like Francesca Tavano from Staten Island, whose lives had been changed. “Not only was I amazed, but I ran to my teacher and said, ‘I have to dance with them. I have to be a part of this!”
Madison Polanco of the Bronx had a similar experience. “It introduced me a lot to the Paul Taylor program which I now attend 3 days a week.”
Ines Cottin Ahmed pointed out her diversity. “That’s really what I resonate with because I’m diverse, and I also love that it’s very family-friendly.”
A key member of the family is Carolyn Adams, a former Taylor dancer who is now the director of education for these students. “They’re taking the cultural opportunity,” she told me, “and they’re willing to pass it on.”
Adam has been involved since 1965 and now mentors students like 12th grader Ziane McGregor from Brooklyn.
She works in a separate program within Taylor that introduces young children to dance in their classrooms, but speaks for everyone involved when watching Taylor: “Boosted my confidence, and it allowed me to be more open to other ideas and more dance experiences.”
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