Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
And Chairman Board of Trustees
Robert E. Aberlin, President, Board of Trustees
Bettie de Jong, Rehearsal Director
Martin I Kagin, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Lisa Labrado, MWW Group
Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein,
Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson,
Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Patrick Mahoney,
Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 3, 2009
(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)
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.
Mercuric Tidings (1982): Music by Franz Schubert (Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Amy Young, Michael Trusnovec, and the Company. In blue unitards with soft red stripes, Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young lead the Company in this balletic modern work. In fact, there’s so much detail in the choreography, with figures spinning, arms straight like a top, and the Company moving in two’s and three’s, that I thought of Balanchine and wondered if he’d inspired this particular 1982 work. The Schubert Symphonies have an infectious tempo, and the dancers move with elegant passion. They seem to defy gravity, traveling en air much of the time. In addition to the two leads, Michelle Fleet, Annmaria Mazzini, and Julie Tice caught my eye, as well as Orion Duckstein.
Changes (NY Premiere): Songs Sung by The Mamas and The Papas, Music by John Phillips, John Lennon/Paul McCartney, and John Hartford, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Changes was one of the two premiere pieces tonight, and Taylor’s program notes (every work on every program has an inspirational quote or choreographer’s note) reflect a look at the sixties for youthful activism and Taylor’s lament that “the more things change…”. With head bands, jeans and jackets, and Santo Loquasto’s psychedelic colors, bare-bellied dancers whirled to “California Earthquake”, “Dancing Bear”, and “California Dreamin’”. In fact, this last song ran through my head for days, sign of an engaging experience. Jennifer Tipton’s use of stage lights added a glare that expanded the sparkling edge of this genre.
This work is obviously rooted in today’s political discourse, or, rather, lack of discourse, as death tolls from two wars climb with little debate or public outcries. Taylor returns us to the days when the nation’s youth and not so youthful all marched, chanted, sung, and rebelled against the “political establishment”. The title Changes perhaps encourages us to focus on true change, not just the concept of change, as part of charismatic speech. Paul Taylor transports us back to the sixties, with dancers uniquely in wigs, mustaches, teased Afro, and the leisurely laissez-faire is fascinating. Each dancer assumes a campy, yet authentic persona, with Orion Duckstein, Annmaria Mazzini, and Francisco Graciano riveting the eye. Mr. Graciano plays a pajama-clad character in “Dancing Bear”, with a large bear-costumed James Samson. Their duo seemed sewn into this work like a brightly colored quilted patch, and they were followed by additional sixties genre characterizations. I suspect that Mr. Taylor may yet fine-tune this new work.
Beloved Renegade (NY Premiere): Music by Francis Poulenc (Gloria), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Choreographed to Poulenc’s Gloria, Beloved Renegade takes on Walt Whitman’s mortality and the meaning of war, all at once. Taylor quotes Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”…”I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world”. This work, although embedded with soothing and soaring music is riveting for its drama and deathlike doom. There are military motifs, autobiographical - choreography innuendos, and deep spirituality. Michael Trusnovec leads the Company through “I am the poet of the body, and I am the poet of the soul”, while Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, and Francisco Graciano were awe-inspiring in “Come children, come my boys and girls”. This intense, introspective work has emotional texture and thought-provoking structure.