Best Visiting Artist - 2001
Dance St. Louis and its director, Sally Bliss, scored another grand coup this year by commissioning the organization's first dance piece from America's greatest living choreographer, Paul Taylor. Taylor, 70, arrived in St. Louis with his gorgeous, energetic company to take them through the paces of "Black Tuesday." The piece -- at times light; at times edgy, even horrifying; at times melancholy -- was premiered at the Fox Theatre, where the company rehearsed one afternoon. Taylor moves like an old dancer, stiff from a career of aches, pains and injuries, yet abundantly graceful. He talks softly in a will-o'-the-wisp voice that trails off into the air. He's patient and gentle with his criticism and obviously takes great joy in being with his young company. That night, during a preshow discussion with Bliss before a small audience, he was asked what he looked for in dancers during auditions. He said, "I like to watch them when they're not dancing. If they bump into somebody, do they say, 'Excuse me'?" Amiability is not often regarded as a virtue in the arts, but Taylor's grin was broad as he talked about his dancers: "They're really nice people. Just look at their faces. The face is part of the body, too."