How Micaela Taylor turned pandemic stillness into a creative explosion at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
“A lot of people, it’s my understanding, will say that in a quarantine period you tend to just go kind of inward, into your head. I think for me, going out into the world really invigorated me — I feel like I’m on another plane, flying faster and higher than I’ve ever flown before,” Micaela Taylor, the founder and artistic director of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, tells the New York Times.
For Taylor — a former actor, dancer, and dancer-choreographer who has also served as a teaching artist at the Center — the world could be a depressing place. In late May, Taylor had moved to the Center at the invitation of its director, Nicholas Hytner, in anticipation of the company’s upcoming production The Odyssey, but “to be honest,” she said at the time, “I didn’t think the Center would have turned out how it has.”
“He made me feel amazing. I wanted to leave the Center and I felt so much more energized than I had in 18 months,” Taylor, who was born in the Bronx and lived in Toronto, Canada before becoming a Broadway actress, told People magazine in September. “The people I work with are so open and honest; they’re brilliant, but at the same time they’re so kind. It feels like we’re all in this together.”
“She felt like an extra, a third character. It was more like an accident,” says Michael Mayer, who directed the production. “She started out to get some dance training at the Center, and then she got a job as an actor and worked with the Center’s actors for a long time.”
“I do believe that when you make something like The Odyssey, when you bring together actors and dancers from all around the world into one space, that that magic is like a kind of cosmic thing.”
Taylor’s success at cultivating this magical, singular, and often bizarre experience was nothing short