Southeast Student Accepted into Two Prestigious Summer Dance Programs



May 20, 2005 – Leslie Samples of West Frankfort, Ill., a senior dance major in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University, has been accepted into two internationally acclaimed dance programs this summer.

Samples has been invited to participate with the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., and the Paul Taylor Dance Company summer intensive workshop in New York City.

Samples auditioned with both programs in ballet and modern dance master classes with professional dancers in their respective companies.  Due to conflicts in the scheduling of both programs, Samples had to choose between the two, ultimately selecting the Paul Taylor Dance Company summer intensive workshop in New York City July 5-29.

Samples said she decided to attend the summer intensive workshop because it focuses on one dance style rather than many. Samples also has previous experience with the company as Southeast Missouri State University hosted the Taylor 2 Dance Company on campus last October.  According to a professor in the department, Samples “enjoyed their classes and fell in love with the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s style.”

Dr. Marc Strauss, associate professor of theatre and dance at Southeast, says the opportunities this acceptance brings Samples are immense.

“It is a rare honor to have been accepted into one of these programs, let alone both,” he said.  “Paul Taylor (b. 1930) remains one of America’s national treasures as a modern dance choreographer, and Leslie will be studying with the company members for one month, and will perform parts of Paul Taylor’s world-famous choreography during weekly repertory showings.”

Samples will participate in the summer intensive that will take place in the dance studios of LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts on the upper-west side of New York.  Dancers will have solo, duet-partnering and group work, and are offered classes in ballet and body conditioning/awareness.  Seminars relevant to performance and creation will also be given, as well as discussions with master teachers and past and present members of the Paul Taylor Dance Companies.  Taylor 2, one of the Paul Taylor Dance Companies, will be in residence, participating in all classes.  Each week will feature a repertoire showing open to the public.

Paul Taylor has been called a genius; a legend; a cultural icon.  Time calls him “the reigning master of modern dance,” and the New York Daily News declares him “the best choreographer in the world.”

Taylor grew up near Washington, D.C.  He was a swimmer and a student of art at Syracuse University in the late 1940s until he discovered dance, which he then studied at Juilliard.  By 1954, he had assembled a small company of dancers and presented his own choreography.

Taylor is the recipient of dozens of awards and honors.  He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1993.  In 1992, he received an Emmy Award for “Speaking in Tongues,” produced by WNET/New York the previous year.  He was a recipient of the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors. In 1995, he received the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts for work that “endures as some of the most innovative and important the world has ever seen.”

Taylor was elected to knighthood by the French government as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1969 and has since been elevated to the ranks of Officier (1984) and Commandeur (1990). In January 2000, he was awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur, for exceptional contributions to French culture.  He is the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and has received honorary doctor of fine arts degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Connecticut College, Duke University, Juilliard, Skidmore College, the State University of New York at Purchase and Syracuse University.  Awards for lifetime achievement include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – often called the “Genius award” – and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award. 

Paul Taylor established Taylor 2 in 1993 to ensure that his works could be seen by audiences all over the world, unhindered by economic or logistical limitations.  Taylor looked back to the 1954 origins of the Paul Taylor Dance Company for the structure of his new company: six professionals with a particular gift for his style who perform his work throughout the world. 

In selecting repertoire for Taylor 2, Taylor chooses dances that span the broad spectrum of his work. Many of the dances performed by Taylor 2 have been re-worked from the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s version to enable the smaller ensemble of dancers to perform them. Critics and audiences cheer as Taylor 2 introduces the athleticism, humor and range of emotions found in Taylor’s work.

For more information on the Paul Taylor Dance Company or any of its programs, visit