The students in Micaela Taylor’s class at Hollywood Dance Center are making strange faces at each other. “Exaggerate it as much as you can,” Taylor eggs them on, as her face contorts in her own series of riffs. Divided into pairs to work on a prompt to “tell each other a story influenced by your partner’s face and behavior,” the dancers layer in gestures and full-body moves.
The class soon flows through a guided improv of physical textures: smooth with hard stops; limbs reaching bigger and wider; grounded, bouncing pliés; and traveling slides that ramp up into a jog. The dancers are working for an articulate face, a reactive spine, limbs that can mix balletic shapes and hip-hop rhythms and hands that are never “dead”—the same signatures that have made Taylor into a sought-after choreographer.