Dancer talks about doing ‘death-defying lifts’

Michael Trusnovec will appear in “Gossamer Gallants,” a humorous piece about the insect world.  Credit: Dance Celebration
Michael Trusnovec will appear in “Gossamer Gallants,” a humorous piece about the insect world.
Credit: Dance Celebration

Starting down the path toward a career in dance, Michael Trusnovec was most attracted to the theatricality of the Broadway stage. But when he saw his first performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company while in college, Trusnovec took a detour from the Great White Way.

“All of the technique, the physicality melded with the emotional performance aspect that I love about the Broadway side of dancing met really well in Paul’s work,” Trusnovec recalls. “It seemed like a good fit for me.”

Trusnovec joined Taylor’s second company in 1996 and moved to the main company in 1998, where he’s stayed ever since. A native of Yaphank, New York, he began dancing at age 6 at a school in the same Long Island strip mall where his parents ran a Carvel Ice Cream shop. “My sisters and my best friend went to the dancing school and I would watch them and do all the choreography in the hallway,” Trusnovec says. “The teacher encouraged me to come in and actually take the class, and reinforcement that you’re good at something makes you feel good. So I kept dancing it because it felt good.”

Soon to celebrate its 60th anniversary, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, led by the 83-year-old eponymous choreographer, will perform four Philadelphia premieres to kick off Dance Celebration’s 31st season at the Annenberg Center this weekend. The program features two Taylor classics: “Fibers,” a rarely revived quartet piece from 1961 set to the music of Arnold Schoenberg; and “Profiles,” a highly physical 1979 piece about the relationship between two couples.

“Profiles” is one of two pieces on the program in which Trusnovec will perform. “The music is screechy strings and the movement has a little bite and tension to it,” he describes. “It’s an extremely difficult dance. You really have to listen to the music as well as pay attention to the other person to survive some of these death-defying lifts and balances. But it’s super-rewarding when it works out well.”

Trusnovec also appears in “Gossamer Gallants,” a colorful, humorous piece exploring mating rituals in the insect world. The program concludes with Taylor’s most recent work, “American Dreamer,” a set of vignettes set to the music of Stephen Foster. “The program really represents Paul Taylor’s range as a choreographer,” Trusnovec says. “He’s still making two new works a year, which is pretty impressive for a man who’s 83 years of age. The versatility and variety of the repertory constantly keeps challenging me. In 16 years I’ve never felt bored or uninspired.”

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Oct. 24-26
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
3680 Walnut St.
$20-$55, 215-898-3900
www.annenbergcenter.org


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