Dancer/choreographer Maya Taylor discovered the Old English word "selcouth" on a friend's Instagram page. Related to the word "uncouth," it means strange, but it can be taken in different ways.
"It jumped right out at me," Taylor says. "It encompasses so many different things: amazing, weird, exciting. I thought that's going to be part of my piece."
Taylor appropriated the term for the title of her dance piece Selcouth Liaison, which will premiere at the Marigny Opera House Oct. 24. Taylor is one of the Marigny Opera House Dance Company's three choreographers, and she's also the rehearsal director and one of the troupe's six dancers. Taylor danced professionally in New York with Elisa Monte Dance, and she moved to New Orleans in July 2013. She's excited about the debut of the company and the growth of the dance scene in New Orleans.
Selcouth Liaison is piece about relationships.
"My piece is a quartet with a lot of group work and partnering," she says. "It explores relationships from first attraction to the not-so-amazing parts that everyone likes to talk about."
The work is set to live music from a cello quartet playing music by Italian composer Giovanni Sollima.
The response to the Marigny Opera House's New Dance Festival, which commissioned new works set to live music, encouraged the creation of the company, which is taking the uncommon approach of presenting all performances with live musical accompaniment, including scores created for the pieces. The premiere features Taylor's Selcouth Liaison and pieces by the company's other two choreographers, Donna Crump and Diogo de Lima. The company is opening with a season of three original programs, each with a dance from each choreographer, and may add performances.
"With Marigny Opera House, (co-founder) Dave (Hurlbert) and (manager) Spencer (Doyle) are trying to have a professional company here," Taylor says. "There are a lot of companies (in New Orleans), but it's a goal to have companies so dancers can stay here. You want dancers that you work with to stay here and help build the audience. ... It's such a wonderful creative community. It wasn't until I moved here that I realized how many dancers are from the city."
Taylor grew up in Nebraska, and after dancing professionally in New York moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where she ran her own company for two years. Then she moved to New Orleans, which impressed her with its dance offerings.
"The New Orleans Ballet Association brings in (Alvin) Ailey (American Dance Theater) and Complexions, Martha Graham," she says. "I think that's wonderful. I would love to see more smaller companies — eight-person companies. The Contemporary Arts Center is having Sidra Bell this fall. (CAC) had Kyle Abraham last year."
The CAC presents Sidra Bell's work ReVUE, a dark, circus-inspired piece exploring sexuality and gender, on Dec. 5-6. The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) opens its season Oct. 17 with Momix. The contemporary dance company performs Alchemia, in which its legendary founder Moses Pendleton conjures acrobatic illusions on the nature of the elements — earth, air fire and water. On Nov. 7, NOBA hosts Stars of American Ballet, which features principal dancers and soloists from the New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet.