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 Dance Company - Roses, Book of Beasts, Company B
-Onstage with the Dancers
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Paul Taylor Dance Company
NY, NY 10012
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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: Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein,
Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzak
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 11, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
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.
Roses (1985): Music by Richard Wagner, Siegfried Idyll, and Heinrich Baermann, Adagio for Clarinet and Strings, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. In this dance, there was no red, but there was romance. Julie Tice and Orion Duckstein had one long, very effective partnered dance, as they catapulted into each other's legs, like dual cartwheels, while the other five couples also moved about each other, much of it sitting or rolling or intertwining. In fact, at one point, the females rolled about within the male dancers' open legs. Wagner's music was rapturous in the first, long segment, with the women in long, black silky dresses and simple thin straps and the men in grey tights and tank tops (thanks to William Ivey Long).
In the second segment, Lisa Viola and Michael Trusnovec wore stark white and appeared in front of the ensemble, dancing their own variation, while the black and grey-attired couples wound about each other on the floor and sometimes in an almost ballroom dance motif. Mr. Taylor evoked lyricism and elegance in the midst of a rare set of scores. Of particular note were Parisa Khobdeh and Francisco Graciano, two new dancers in the Company and well worth watching. Mr. Taylor has a keen eye for talent.
Book of Beasts (1971): Music by E. Power Biggs and his pedal harpsichord, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Here Mr. Taylor turned camp once more (at least once in every program). The program calls the dancers "Illuminations" and "Text", but this is no fairy tale. John Rawlings has created beastie costumes of black fur, and dancers move about with paws twirling and licking motions, as if dogs and cats. A prop is the use of a dozen or so wooden poles as a ladder for a bear-like creature, for a boat and oars, or for swords with large arrow ends. Nine sections divide this program, and E. Power Biggs plays music from none less than Schubert, Weber, Saint-Säens, Mozart, Beethoven, Boccherini, Falla, and Tchaikovsky.
Michael Trusnovec, always the powerful presence, was Phoenix, with ribbons of red and gold streaming from his hands, like fire, and a golden unitard. There was also a figure in a sack, with flowing ribbons from the head, and a bear that attacked a female beast with two of the poles. Nothing scary here, as every dancer bounced right up at each campy disaster. Chase scenes, frolicking, and hilarious humor abounded.
Company B (1991): Music – Songs sung by the Andrews Sisters, sentiments during WWII, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Another quasi-war statement, danced to none other than the 1940's Andrews Sisters, who really could sing and had high quality vocals, Company B brings out thirteen dancers in khaki-cotton styled clothing (thanks to Santo Loquasto). The women are in beige skirts or cropped, pleated pants, and the men in pleated pants, all in red belts, and no bare feet here, but white sneakers. The music is contagious, with songs like "Bei Mir Bist du Schön" (that book-ended the dance), "Pennsylvania Polka", and "There Will Never Be Another You".
A star was born today, as a new dancer in the Company, Francisco Graciano, attracted deserved accolades for his solo, "Tico-Tico", with some balletic, mid-air twirls and rapid footwork, as well as a bit of abdominal dance. He used Latin gestures (Mr. Graciano is from Texas), and he certainly has a bright future with the Taylor Company. Also notable were Annamaria Mazzini, Robert Kleinendorst, and Michelle Fleet, but the entire cast was superb. The Paul Taylor Dance Company never ceases to amaze, constantly reviving works from its seemingly endless repertoire. There is something to be said for not including outside choreographies in an iconic Company such as this.
Kudos to Paul Taylor.