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A glimpse of dance legend Paul Taylor at work

Up close with choreographer Paul Taylor 03:06

"Dance, I've always thought it's like poetry," says Paul Taylor, one of the preeminent choreographers of modern dance. "Poems don't always spell everything out, you know. They need room between the lines."

Paul Taylor is one of the greatest innovators of modern dance. Once a soloist for Martha Graham, who called him the "naughty boy" of dance, Taylor has been choreographing for 60 years. And his dances have often been a mystery to even the most skilled of dancers.

Iconic choreographer Paul Taylor works with young dancers in New York City. Whitney Browne
Filmmaker Kate Geis got rare behind-the-scenes access for her new documentary "Paul Taylor: Creative Domain," filming as he trains his dancers.

"Paul Taylor is an artist who's considered a genius," Geis tells CBS News. "He's created some of the most iconic modern dances. And to try to understand how he does it is the focus of this film."

Taylor's style has been described as both iconic and iconoclastic. His dances combine earthy impulses with classical grace and, often, a flirtatious youthful energy. Taylor has given few interviews, and fewer glimpses into a creative process that many struggle to understand.

"He's also very comfortable not sharing what the dance is about, even with his dancers," says Geis. "He gives them just what he feels they need to know in order to understand the intention of the movement."

Taylor created his own dance company in 1954 after working with Graham and legend George Ballanchine. Now 83, he still works with dancers around the country and choreographs at least two dances per year.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company began a national 60th anniversary tour with a three-week run at Lincoln Center in New York, and is scheduled to tour in Los Angeles and Chicago, Spoleto, Italy later this year.

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