At an age when most artists’ best work is behind them, Mr. Taylor continues to win acclaim for the vibrancy, relevance and power of his recent dances as well as his classics. As prolific as ever, he continues to offer cogent observations on life’s complexities while tackling some of society’s thorniest issues. He may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, or use them to wordlessly illuminate war, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality. If, as Balanchine said, there are no mothers-in-law in ballet, there certainly are dysfunctional families, ex-lovers, fallen preachers, rapists, angels and insects in Taylor dance.
Mr. Taylor has received every important honor given to artists in the United States. In 1992 he was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and received an Emmy Award for Speaking in Tongues, produced by WNET/New York the previous year. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1993. In 1995 he received the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts and was named one of 50 prominent Americans honored in recognition of their outstanding achievement by the Library of Congress’s Office of Scholarly Programs. He is the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Connecticut College, Duke University, The Juilliard School, Skidmore College, the State University of New York at Purchase, Syracuse University and Adelphi University. Awards for lifetime achievement include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – often called the “genius award” – and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award. Other awards include the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and the New York City Mayor’s Award of Honor for Art and Culture. In 1989 he was elected one of ten honorary American members of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Having been elected to knighthood by the French government as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1969 and elevated to Officier in 1984 and Commandeur in 1990, Mr. Taylor was awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur, for exceptional contributions to French culture, in 2000. Mr. Taylor’s autobiography, originally published by Alfred A. Knopf and re-released by North Point Press and later by the University of Pittsburgh Press, was nominated by the National Book Critics Circle as the most distinguished biography of 1987. Dancemaker, Matthew Diamond’s award-winning, Oscar-nominated feature-length film about Mr. Taylor, was hailed by Time as “perhaps the best dance documentary ever.”