Paul Taylor Dance Company's new program seeks to spark interest in dance among NYC children

Sandy Kenyon Image
Saturday, November 12, 2022
Program aims to ignite passion for dance in NYC students
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Sandy Kenyon reports on the program run by the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

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 continues and so does The Taylor School.

He was deeply committed to education, and The Paul Taylor Foundation continues to work with New York City's 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 a number of ways for kids to get involved, but let's start with a program called Arnhold Tier 3.

I met first with Jody Arnhold who explained that, "the idea was pretty simple: bring school children to Lincoln Center to see Paul Taylor Modern Dance, to put them in a seat in Lincoln Center to see a great, American dance company."

She and her husband John fund the initiative that bears their name. "Why not? Because every child deserves to have a dance education!"

It's called Tier 3 because that's the section of the theater where young people can sit and, thanks to the Arnhold's, not have to pay a dime.

One student told me, "getting free tickets to watch a show opened up my eyes to this new style of dancing," and 12th grader Lyric Penland added it was, "a way to feel free." Ariel Strochkova added, "I went with my mother and we were so excited to see it. We were just like it was awesome."

I even met some students, like Francesca Tavano From Staten Island, whose lives had been changed. "Not only was I just amazed, but I ran up to my teacher and said 'I need to dance with them. I need to be a part of this!'"

Madison Polanco from the Bronx had a similar experience. "It very much introduced me to The Paul Taylor program which I now go to 3 days every week."

Ines Cottin Ahmed singled out its diversity. "That's really what I resonate with because I'm diverse, and I also love how it's very familial."

A key member of the family is Carolyn Adams, a former Taylor dancer who now serves as Director of Education for these students. "They gain ownership of the cultural opportunity," she told me, "and they're prepared to pass it on."

Adam has been involved since 1965 and now mentors students like Brooklyn 12th grader, Ziane McGregor.

She works as part of a separate program within Taylor that introduces younger kids to dance in their classrooms, but speaks for everyone involved when she observes Taylor: "has boosted my confidence, and it has allowed me to be more open to other ideas and more dance experiences."

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