Career + Motherhood Insights: Eran Bugge of Paul Taylor Dance Company

Don't Miss Her Final Lincoln Center Season October 31- November 12, 2023

By Stacey Jones October 14, 2023

We had the delight of being introduced to Paul Taylor Dance Company dancer Eran Bugge in anticipation of her upcoming return to Lincoln Center as a senior dancer in many of Paul Taylor's masterworks from October 31 to November 12, 2023. This will be her final Lincoln Center Season with the Company after 18 years. 

Bugge's journey through motherhood as a professional dancer makes her experience unique. With the physical demands of the profession and the national touring of the company away from home, being a mother is complex. "We knew with me still dancing at such a high level and touring meant a very different version of parenthood than we had envisioned," said Eran Bugge. "My husband and I have an incredibly supportive extended family and friend network, so we decided we could do it."

In September 2021, she gave birth to her daughter, Arden Patricia Jones, named after one of Paul Taylor's legendary dances, "Arden Court," a piece in which she always performed a leading role. After her pregnancy and return to touring across the country, she shares: "I've found dancing incredibly fulfilling as a mother on tour. I feel stronger. It's like all the things I was trying to work on before got unlocked through this transformation into motherhood." 

With nearly two decades of performing with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Bugge's commitment is readily apparent. We were recently able to get some wonderful insights directly from her to share with you today as she prepares for this final Lincoln Center season. 

Q) As you approach your final Lincoln Center season with Paul Taylor Dance Company, what is the favorite role you have performed over your tenure with the company?

A) This is such a difficult question! Almost like trying to choose which is your favorite child. I’ve performed over 100 roles in Paul’s work, and I could choose many favorites based on different criteria. Dances that are emotionally satisfying: Sunset and Eventide. Dances that are physically demanding and make you feel like a hero at the end: Esplanade, Mercuric Tidings. Dances that are technical and delicious: Brandenburgs and Airs. And this final season, I am getting to visit two roles I have always dreamed of doing for the first time so even after all these years there is still more to explore.

Q) What role and in which particular production are you most looking forward to performing from the repertoire this season?

A) I have always dreamed of doing two roles that I have the great honor to be dancing for the first time this season, so I think those are the most exciting. One is the central pair of duets in a dance called Eventide and the polar opposite mood wise I am dancing the role created by Susan McGuire in Last Look.

Q)  What sticks out to you the most when you think about working with Paul Taylor directly himself over your 18 years with the company? Can you share an anecdote or lesson learned or poignant memory?

A) Watching Paul coach one of us on our use of gesture is something that stands out strongly in my memories. I remember when he would be trying to get me to do something by saying "no, like this." I was trying too hard to copy what he was doing, feeling like I must be nailing it and then him again "no, not like that, like this." It could feel frustrating. But then if you were ever watching one of your fellow dancers going through the same thing from the outside you could see how he was right. How millimeters of a difference in the turn of a hand or the spread of a finger changed everything about how the gesture was perceived by the audience. This attention to detail, especially in the gesture work, really gives an important grounding in the human connections that makes Paul's work what it is.

Q) You have the perspective of a Mom and a professional modern dancer. How uncommon is it to become a Mom in the field of professional dance? How did it work for you during the pregnancy itself and impact your class, rehearsal, and performance commitments? Did you feel supported by the company itself and by your peers? What was the biggest challenge about working during your pregnancy?

A) I think it is still shockingly uncommon to be a mother and a professional modern dancer. It is even still uncommon to be a father and a professional modern dancer, although there is the obvious advantage of not having to recover physically from the child's arrival. I think it is becoming more common in ballet companies, but even there it is far from the norm. I was able to perform up until I was 19 weeks pregnant and it was wonderful to make it that long because it was our first show in front of a live audience after 2020. I had a lot of pelvic pain during my pregnancy, especially after my last performance, and by the end it was difficult even to walk let alone dance. It was really difficult to come to terms with a body I was used to having such control over forcing me to slow down. The support from my peers was incredible; it was wonderful to be on that journey with them. The biggest challenge of being pregnant while being a dancer is that you really can not count on doing everything right up until your due date, which just means you have to anticipate a longer leave from your work than the average working pregnant person.

Q) Now that you balance the demands of being a Mom with the demands of your career, how do you ensure that you are able to meet the needs of the Company and the needs of your child? What tips do you have for any other dancing professionals considering becoming a parent? What is your biggest challenge and biggest reward with these overlapping roles?

A) I am incredibly blessed to have a super supportive partner, family and friends. We have a great daycare and I know she is happy and cared for there, so in many ways once I drop her off and head to work I feel much like my old self. The logistics are more complicated and I get less sleep and way fewer massages - the major thing I gave up in motherhood! Before having a child, I really could spend so much of my time, energy and money towards perfecting my craft, cross training, etc. Now, I have to economize how I keep getting what I need to perform my best and still be with her as much as possible. 

One of the biggest rewards is how grateful I am to still be doing what I love and how in the moment I can be now. When I am with her, I don't want to think about work, and when I am at work, I don't need to think about her. It is liberating to be in the moment in both places and to still have a place where I feel so fully myself. I think it can be easy when you become a parent to forget who you are in the service of being everything for your child. Personally, when I am in a dance studio or performing Paul's work, I am just the me I have always been.

Q) I know she's still only two, but has your daughter attended any of your performances yet? Or any of your classes or rehearsals? 

A) She has come to see one community day performance and it was so fun to dance for her! She stayed completely engaged and I could see out of the corner of my eye that she was watching me. I would have loved to expose her to more but she was a preemie during the pandemic and it has honestly been a little hard to get comfortable exposing her to huge crowds. I hope to have a few more chances for her to see some of me dancing before I retire next summer.

Q) Do you have a specific role and production scheduled for your farewell performance with the Company to conclude your tenure working with them? If so, what are they and when/where will they be performed?  Will it be a full circle moment with revisiting something you've danced previously, or will it be a premiere for you in something new?

A) The summer schedule isn't 100% set in stone yet, especially the rep we will be doing but a lot of the scheduled final tour stops will definitely be special. In particular, we are doing a few week tour of Florida (I grew up in Florida) so it will be great for my parents to be able to join easily on several of those stops.

Q) For young aspiring dancers, what is the best advice you can offer to them if they'd like to pursue a career in dance?  Looking further down the line into a career period for those aspiring dancers, what would you tell them about being a parent and a dancer at the same time? What other information would you like to share with our young readers who are passionate about dance?

A) I always encourage young dancers to get exposed to as many choreographers and styles of dance as they can. There are so many different ways to make a career in dance - keep your eyes, ears and heart open. 

Q) As a dancer, what is your most memorable moment on stage? What are you most proud of from your career?

A) The moments when I could truly lose myself in the world I was creating on stage with my colleagues are the ones I am most proud of and were the most memorable. 

We are grateful to Eran Bugge for sharing her experiences with our readers. With such a long tenure of performing with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, you don't want to miss Bugge's final season this year! It's exciting to witness her success and hear her insights on a path less traveled in the dance world...that of embarking on the journey of motherhood while maintaining her professional career in dance. We wish her all the best for this final season with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. 

Grab your whole family and head into New York City for the day to catch one of Eran Bugge's final performances at Lincoln Center! The Paul Taylor Dance Company’s 2023 Season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, from October 31 through November 12, will include fourteen dances by five choreographers – Ulysses Dove, Amy Hall Garner, Larry Keigwin, Lauren Lovette, and Paul Taylor – and feature world premieres by Lovette, PTDC’s Resident Choreographer, and Keigwin, Taylor Company Commissioned choreographer. Music on all programs will be performed live by Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Taylor Music Director David LaMarche and Tara Simoncic. 

For even the youngest kids, a Family Matinee takes place on Saturday, November 4, at 2:00 p.m. The program features the return of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” performed by OSL and narrated by multiple Tony, Grammy, and Emmy nominee Vanessa Williams. Paul Taylor’s Book of Beasts and Cloven Kingdom round out the family-friendly program from last Season. Special ticketed opportunities will be available for this performance: children and families can join a Taylor dancer live on the Lincoln Center stage and visit the Koch Theater’s Promenade for face painting, photos, movement tutorials, fairy hair, autographs, and refreshments.

Ticket prices for the 2023 Season start at only $15 and can be purchased here.