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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Images, Black Tuesday, Esplanade
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Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
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In Performances at City Center
(www.citycenter.org)

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
March 12, 2003

Images (1977): Music by Claude Debussy (Selections from Images - Book I, Children's Corner Suite, and Pour le Piano), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Mark Litvin, Performed by Patrick Corbin, Richard Chen See, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Amy Young, Julie Tice, and Michelle Fleet. With a black backdrop, and the exquisite lighting of Mr. Litvin, which enables the skin to look brilliant and warm, and the music of one of my favorite composers, Claude Debussy, an impressionist and romanticist, this piece was highly evocative of the Nijinsky Ballet, L'Apr├Ęs-Midi d'un Faune, also choreographed to a Debussy score.

In the Nijinsky ballet, which caused a major furor in Paris and less of a furor in London (Clarke and Crisp) Nijinsky, as the faun in his own ballet, shockingly wears sandals and walks in the erotic style of a Greek frieze, complimentary to the Leon Bakst backdrop. The arm and hand movements, in stiffly bent fashion, and a scandalous theme, relating to the scarf of the lead nymph, create a huge amount of publicity for Serge Diaghilev and his Ballet Russes (Read more in Ballet an Illustrated History, by Clarke and Crisp, Universe Books, Chptr. 5).

In Mr. Taylor's Images, the mood is upbeat, there is no scarf, and there is no lingering nymph. The female dancers wear patchwork skirts, and the male dancers wear black briefs. Yet, the choreography is created with a Greek motif, in the limb movements and the bent arms, hands, feet, and legs. The angularity of the body and the groupings of dancers remain, for me, aesthetically tied to the Nijinsky idea, in a very modern and interesting dance. I enjoyed the contrasts in music and mood, with the changing piano scores. I look forward to seeing this piece again in the next Taylor Season.


Images
Dancers: Annmaria Mazzini and Michael Trusnovec
Photo by Lois Greenfield

Black Tuesday (2001): Songs from the Great Depression, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Patrick Corbin, Lisa Viola, Kristi Egtevt, Silvia Nevjinsky, Andy LeBeau, Takehiro Ueyama, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, and Julie Tice.

The audience was particularly enthusiastic about Black Tuesday, especially in Ms. Mazzini's solo to Boulevard to Broken Dreams. She was dramatic, sensual, and technically skilled in her interpretation of this moving piece. There was humor in the virtuosic solo by Ms. Nevjinsky, to Sittin' On a Rubbish Can, and, in the Company's Brother Can You Spare a Dime, with a white glove treatment, the stage lights faded to single lights on the outstretched hands, as the curtain fell with drama. Kudos to Jennifer Tipton for Lighting and to Santo Loquasto for the NY street costumes and skyline sets. The sets, which were evocative of the nearness of trains, bridges, trash cans, stars, tall buildings, and soot, were brilliant. This was a very Jazzy and moving work, especially considering the state of the city's economy. The audience was duly moved.

Esplanade (1975): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Violin Concerto in E Major, Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, Largo & Allegro), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Kristi Egtvedt, Silvia Nevjinsky, Takehiro Ueyama, Heather Berest, Amy Young, James Samson, and Michelle Fleet.

When I heard the Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, by Bach, I realized I had just reviewed two dances at NYC Ballet to the same music.. The NYC Ballet performed en pointe, with grace and seriousness of purpose. The Taylor Company was barefoot, in casual dress, with the effervescent Lisa Viola, racing and leaping, mid-air, into the arms of her partners, and with strong diagonal lights, onto which the dancers performed, in a very effective visual image. Mr. Chen See has strong presence, and the entire ensemble was sensational in its timing, energy level, and quality of dance. The virtual square dance of the first movement, contrasted with the athleticism of the final movement, with horizontal and vertical choreography, rapid and slow rhythms, and connecting and inter-connecting partners was amazing to experience. Kudos to Lisa Viola and Kudos to Paul Taylor. I hope I do not have to wait long for the Taylor Company to return to a NY Season. I am grateful that they were here.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net