Paul Taylor Dance Company - Aureole, 3 Epitaphs, Dante Variations, Le Sacre Du Printemps
-Onstage with the Dancers
Paul Taylor Dance Company
50th Anniversary Season
NY, NY 10012
Phone: 212 431 5562
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Norton Belknap, President, Board of Directors
Bettie De Jong, Rehearsal Director
Wallace Chappell, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Jennifer Lerner
Dancers: Patrick Corbin, Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Silvia Nevjinsky, Andy LeBeau, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Nathaniel Keuter
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 12, 2005: Matinee
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
Years ago, Paul Taylor danced with my Modern Dance Master Class at Skidmore College. For many years, I have been part of Mr. Taylor's devoted audience and have seen him as an inspiring dancer and as a creative choreographer. Mr. Taylor has been one of my long-time heroes of the Arts. He always sits in the audience, watching his Company perform. And, he always stands onstage, as did his mentor, Martha Graham, to accept accolades, after the final curtain. Mr. Taylor obviously delights in the success of his Company and loyal advisors, and, in fact, Ms. Bettie De Jong, whom I had seen as one of Mr. Taylor's original soloists and as his dance partner, has been with the Taylor Company for over 40 years and is currently his Rehearsal Director.
Paul Taylor grew up near Washington, DC and studied dance at Juilliard. He first presented his own company and original choreography in 1954. For seven years, he was a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company and continued to create dances for his own company. In 1959 he was a Guest Artist and danced with the New York City Ballet, and, since 1975, he has concentrated on his choreography. Mr. Taylor has won dozens of awards, such as the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton in 1993, a 1992 Emmy Award for Speaking in Tongues, and a 1992 Kennedy Center Honor. He was elected to Knighthood by the French Government and in 2000 was awarded Legion d'Honneur for contributions to French culture. (Program Notes). He has received numerous honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from prestigious colleges, including Skidmore, where I first met him, many years ago. The Paul Taylor Dance Company is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe. Visit www.paultaylor.org for the latest tour dates.
Aureole (1962): Music by George Frederic Handel (Excerpts from Concerti Grossi), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by George Tacet, lighting by Thomas Skelton, Performed by Patrick Corbin, Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Amy Young, Michelle Fleet. This very classical, and perhaps, subliminally, campy work, fuses ballet and modern motifs to five movements of Handel, from whom Paul Taylor has found other scores over the years. There is one long solo incredibly presented by Patrick Corbin, and a pas de deux with Mr. Corbin and the virtuosic Lisa Viola. The energy level of the audience was immediately raised during this first matinee piece.
3 Epitaphs (1956): Early New Orleans Jazz, Performed by the Laneville-Johnson Union Brass Band, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Robert Rauschenberg, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by heather Berest, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Julie Tice, Parisa Khobdeh. 3 Epitaphs has always been one of my favorite works, and I always with Paul Taylor would extend it by ten minutes or more. Just as I want more, it soon ends, a brief and highly mesmerizing creation. Dancers in gray head-toe unitards, with tiny mirrors on heads and hands, jokingly prance on all fours, with swishes of the arms for human strobe-lighting effects.
Sometimes they move to New Orleans jazz (more like New Orleans funeral music), and sometimes to silence, a powerful contrast. These five accomplished dancers related to the audience with personality, even with covered heads and features. They seemed to be symbolic of both the drudgery of life (plodding along to the mournful music) and the joy of life (humorously swinging about). I'd love to see this piece performed more often.
Dante Variations (New York Premiere): (Influenced by Dante Alighieri's Inferno, Canto III), Music by Gyorgy Ligeti (Musica ricercata adapted for barrel organ), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Dante Variations is performed to a disquieting Ligeti score, and Ligeti's scores are superbly set for dance, both ballet and modern. In this case, the score propels the gravitational movement of the ensemble from a mountain of bodies to solos, pas de deux, and pas de trois. Lisa Viola seems to have been born to dance, especially in a work of such vibrant dimensions, and, with Michael Trusnovec, she catapults around the stage in serious and not-so-serious style.
One piece of tissue seems intrinsic to the action, and that one piece of tissue, to this writer, was annoying. It was, actually, like being in hell with filthy metaphors, and, probably, that was one intention of the design, since Dante's Inferno was the inspiration of the choreography. The score on barrel organ is as eclectic as the mood, not that hell is fun, but with fascinating and diverse sound. Also diverse was the use of all bodies as one and of one body alone, to demonstrate different interpretations of life underground, very far under. Annmaria Mazzini exuded passion and angst, and Robert Kleinendorst has developed strong presence.
Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rehearsal) (1980): Music by Igor Stravinsky, (Arrangement for two pianos), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. With Lisa Viola as The Girl, heather Berest as the Rehearsal Mistress, Robert Kleinendorst as The Crook, Michael Trusnovec as The Private Eye, Silvia Nevjinsky as The Crook's Mistress, Julie Tice as The Crook's Stooge, Andy LeBeau, Orion Duckstein, and Sean Mahoney as Henchmen and Policemen, and Amy Young, Michelle Fleet, and Parisa Khobdeh as Bar Dancers, this rehearsal gone wild is quite a sight to see, but somewhat confusing.
In story ballet, the audience gets a plot line. Most dance audiences know that The Right of Spring includes a female sacrifice, why not, but when there are multiple plot lines and nuances galore, it would be worth the effort to describe this satire in some nature, just to follow the characters and meaning of rapidly unfolding choreography. A red blanket is a colorful prop, and Lisa Viola, as the predators' object of violence, was, as always, in command of the moment and of her physical space. This dancer knows how to effect a mood, any mood, on short notice. Heather Berest, in authoritative demeanor, is also an excellent character actor. I would like to see this work again for the nuanced story lines and physical meanings.