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Artists In Their Own Words: Maya Taylor

Maya Taylor (Photo: Thang Dao)

Maya Taylor (Photo: Thang Dao)

Who: Maya Taylor

What: Choreographer

Where: French Quarter

Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: On the steps of the Marigny Opera House

Q: Knowing that thoughts make certain neurological pathways, what phrase would you like to have removed from your brain?

A: ‘You’re going to fail’ would be one I’d want to remove. I don’t say it that often, but whenever I start a new project, it’s always something that could happen. Things could go wrong, things could fall apart, and that thought is there for a split second.

I usually take a deep breath and tell myself to calm down when it gets to that point. I also like to write, so if I’m having any ‘you’re a failure’ or ‘things aren’t going to work out’ thoughts then I write out why I’m feeling that way. It doesn’t matter if it’s something general or specific with choreography or a relationship, I try to figure it out and work through it.

My boyfriend, Robert Fogarty, does the Dear World project. We’ve been dating for four years, and after four years I finally did one, and mine was let go of fear. As an artist, in general, fear is something I have to let go of constantly.

There always seems to be a fear of failure anytime you’re putting yourself out there. As a choreographer, I’m creating these steps and taking a chance with the dancers and myself to be in that vulnerable place. But if I don’t put myself out there with my work, what I say, or even my relationship then you stay in this little box. So, in a way, the phrase, ‘you’re going to fail,’ can also excite me.

Q: What do you always seem to do in a hurry when you’re doing it?

A: Making coffee in the morning. I wake up and the first thing I think about is coffee. It’s French press coffee, so it involves grinding, boiling the water, and waiting. The waiting is where I say, ‘Okay, come on and boil,’ and then it’s just the best feeling when you get to pour it.

Q: How would your choreography look if it were submerged in water?

A: I would hope that it would fill the entire ocean. Whether it was three dancers or one hundred dancers, I would want the movement to be so extended and big that it filled the entire space.

It would be so cool to see a performance underwater. You could do so much with partnering and piecing because you would be weightless. And then there’s the sea life. There are always elements you have to think about in a production, like the lights and the sound that could go wrong, but if you were in water you’d have to think about whales swimming around during the performance.

You would never know what would happen. If only we could breathe under water.

Q: Give me a memory that involves insects?

A: I have a great New Orleans memory that involves insects. When I was first visiting New Orleans—before I moved here—I was staying at my boyfriend’s house. He was out of town.

I had always heard stories about New Orleans’s insects, but I didn’t think that much of it. I was sleeping, and I woke up. I saw something scurry across the floor, and I was like, ‘What was that?’

It was a cockroach, and it was the biggest one I’d ever seen. I lived in New York for about ten years, and I probably saw two or three cockroaches total in those ten years.

Well, I got out of bed, got a glass, and I caught the cockroach. I left it in the glass, called my boyfriend and said, ‘What do I do?’

He said, ‘You have to throw it outside.’

And I kept asking, ‘It won’t just die in the glass?’

Of course, he’s saying, ‘Maya, those things don’t die that easily.’

So I got this FedEx envelope, and I tossed the cockroach out the window. The second I tossed it out the window, another one flew out of his closet. That was the first time I saw a flying cockroach. And I still moved here.

Q: Where would you road trip if you were forced to travel for one month?

A: I just went on a road trip this summer that was so beautiful—through Wyoming and Colorado—but I don’t want to pick that, even though it was amazing.

I think I would road trip through Italy. I would love to drive through the countryside, small towns, mountains, and go all over the entire country. I’ve been there once before, and I think it’s such a beautiful and inspiring place.

I would go solo—even though having someone there is great—and I would bring all the music I ever wanted to choreograph to, and I would listen to it while I was driving. And eating. I would speak the little Italian I know, take a ton of photos, and find little pockets along the way where I could stop and choreograph.

I might have to do that.

Maya Taylor is an award-winning local choreographer, and you can see her work this weekend at the Marigny Opera House with the premiere of the ballet Orfeo. The ballet—fully choreographed by Maya with music by Tucker Fuller—will run from October 2 - 4 at 8:00 p.m. each day. Keep up with Maya and her work by reading her website and following her on Facebook.

Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].