Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Taylor-Made Sensation

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Taylor-Made Sensation

Article excerpt

Paul Taylor company star dance Patrick Corbin has lived a complicated and very out life, onstage and off

Few dancers Seem so naturally born to embody a single choreographer's style of dancing as does Patrick Corbin of the Paul Taylor Dance Company. "I totally fell in love with his work from the first hint of it," says Corbin. "I think that I was meant to do what I'm doing from the very beginning." That fact is all the more remarkable because Corbin had received almost no modern dance training when he defected from the Joffrey Ballet to Taylor's company. "When I saw the Taylor audition notice go up, I hiked my ass up to the Martha Graham school and started taking Level I Graham technique," he recalls.

Corbin is indeed a rarity--one of the few ballet dancers who in a wholesale change translated a career in ballet into that of one of America's finest modern dancers. Now the senior member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Corbin was featured in many of Taylor's works during the 2001 New York City Center season.

As a youngster growing up in Maryland, Corbin says, "I was totally obsessed with Shirley Temple." That obsession was later transferred to the Technicolor showmanship of Gene Kelly. "I always have an image of him in my head when I'm dancing," Corbin says. "He was so masculine yet so sensitive and light." After training at the Washington School of Ballet and the School of American Ballet in New York, Corbin joined the Joffrey Ballet, where on his first day in rehearsal he fatefully began learning Taylor's ballet Arden Court.

Corbin's ascending career with the Joffrey coincided with his coming-out as a gay man at age 21. While working on a ballet created by choreographer Mark Morris in 1986, Corbin was cast as a principal dancer opposite one of Joffrey's lead dancers, Philip Jerry. "I was totally in love with him, and it was a painful process making this dance," says Corbin. Moms recognized the situation and took Corbin aside. "Mark just said, `Go for it. Don't try to save face, be true to yourself. Tell him that you love him. Go--just go.'" Corbin did, and he and Jerry became lovers and life partners.

Corbin says that before Robert Joffrey fell ill with AIDS, Joffrey met with the company every week, advising them to widen their artistic knowledge. "He told us what to see off-Broadway, he told us about Madonna before she became famous, about Danceteria and Junior Vasquez," he recalls. …

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