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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Musical Offering, a requiem, Big Bertha, Syzygy
-Onstage with the Dancers

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Paul Taylor Dance Company
50th Anniversary Season
552 Broadway
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
www.citycenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 11, 2005
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.


Musical Offering, a requiem (1986): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Orchestrations by Anton Webern and Frank Michael Beyer, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Gene Moore, lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. In skin-colored leotards and loincloths, Taylor's dancers evoke Martha Graham technique of contractions, releases, and primitive gestures. Bodies glowed in acrobatic choreography, early in this 50th Anniversary Season, one in which the Company has never performed better, or do I say that every time? Paul Taylor Dance Company is in rare form, and every sinew and muscle was apparent in bursts of energetic feats to Johann Sebastian Bach. Richard Chen See, Andy LeBeau, and Julie Tice performed outstanding solos.

Big Bertha (1970): Music from the St. Louis Melody Museum collection of band machines, Special effects by John Herbert McDowell, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Sutherland, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Patrick Corbin as Big Bertha, Orion Duckstein as Mr. B, Heather Berest as Mrs. B, Annmaria Mazzini as Miss B. Many years ago, I saw Paul Taylor dance the role of Big Bertha, and in Patrick Corbin's retirement season, he was splendid dressed in drag, red boots, makeup, and long costume. The primal unleashing of domestic violence is not a subject that I celebrate for artistic expression, and the suggested paternal rape and psycho/physical disintegration of family are disturbing topics for a dance event.

However, to be fair, the dance is extraordinary in its dramatic and artistic result. The wind-up, transvestite carnival, character, who casts a spell on (or reveals the truth about) an all American family, and joins in on the "fun" itself, is powerfully cast, with sudden shifts in mood and momentum. Mrs. B has red "wild thing" lingerie beneath her dress, and Mr. B has evil intentions, with Miss B as prey. Big Bertha is a controversial and complex work.

Syzygy (1987): Music specially composed by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. This rarely performed work with Donald York's abstract, pulsating score lets the hair down, literally, with cartwheels, mid-air leaps, and lightning spins. Syzygy refers to celestial bodies in a gravitational system. One could almost feel the centrifugal force onstage at City Center, and Santo Loquasto's black, green, gold costumes sizzled in Jennifer Tipton's ultra glow.

 

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