In 1952 his dancing at the American Dance Festival attracted the attention of choreographers Martha Graham, José Limón, Charles Weidman, and Doris Humphrey. He performed in the companies of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine, and founded the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1954. Dancers who emerged from his company include Twyla Tharp, Laura Dean, Dan Wagoner, Carolyn Adams, Christopher Gillis, Senta Driver and David Parsons.The use of everyday gestures rather than dance moves is characteristic of his choreography. He has collaborated with painters Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Alex Katz, as well as the legendary Tiffany & Co. designer Gene Moore. A signature work is Esplanade (1975), to music by Johann Sebastian Bach, which he choreographed with a contribution from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Coming out of the generation of choreographers that emerged from the Martha Graham "school", on a very fundamental level his work is bound up with the reaction against the aesthetic vocabulary and dramatic forms of Graham.