Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
And Chairman Board of Directors
Robert E. Aberlin, President, Board of Directors
Bettie de Jong, Rehearsal Director
John Tomlinson, Executive Director
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set & Costume Designer
Lisa Labrado, Director of Public Relations
Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Amy Young,
Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet,
Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith,
Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo
Aileen Roehl, Michael Novak
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 25, 2011
(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 almost 50 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.
Polaris (1976): Music specially composed by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
In both halves of this dance, the choreography is the same, with lighting, music, and cast different each time. This is an amazing concept and well worth viewing again this season. On last viewing it left less of an impression than tonight, when I focused on the nuanced differentiations of a shift in lighting, tempo, mood, and individual interpretations. In Part I, Amy Young presented choreography that was echoed in Part II by Annmaria Mazzini, after a larger ensemble had each taken shifts for earlier segments. Alex Katz’ black-white bathing suit, styled costumes were minimalist by obvious intention, to draw the least attention from this complex experience. In Part I arms might be playfully upstretched, while in Part II there’s a severe affect. Donald York composed the music for both halves of this work, even more astounding, as rhythms and tone were so contrasting.
As each scene ended, the next cast would seamlessly and silently take the exact position of the former cast, prior to the new rhythmic sequence or the finale of the piece. The fluidity of the first half stays in the mind, as one watches the more staccato, intense second half. Sean Mahoney contrasts with Michael Trusnovec, and Eran Bugge contrasts with Michelle Fleet. Jennifer Tipton worked overtime to create the dual lighting effects.
Phantasmagoria (NY Premiere): Music by anonymous Renaissance composers, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
This NY Premiere of Phantasmagoria seemed too vaudevillian for the mood of this audience. Flemish villagers (led by Annmaria Mazzini) dance with and East Indian Adam and Eve (Sean Mahoney and Parisa Khobdeh), a Byzantine nun (Laura Halzack), an Irish step dancer (Michelle Fleet), three Isadorables, or followers of Isadora Duncan, a Bowery bum (Robert Kleinendorst), and a St. Vitus’ dancer transferer (Michael Trusnovec). The bum drinks from a bottle in a bag, the nun, in tall black hat, enjoys a giant green snake, the male cast have an extra costumed groin piece, for largesse, the St. Vitus dancer touches everyone, transferring the plague, and the female cast dances about in gathered dresses. Anonymous Renaissance compositions provide the score, while Jennifer Tipton keeps lighting warm. But, it’s Santo Loquasto’s costumes that win the kudos here, with his creative imagination, obviously inspired and directed by Mr. Taylor.
Cloven Kingdom (1976): Music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller (Combined by John Herbert McDowell), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Women's Costumes by Scott Barrie, Headpieces by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
I could watch Cloven Kingdom once or twice each season, like a favorite ballet, as it’s so inviting, so engaging, so unique, and so percussive. That is, the drums get into your system, with repetitive echoing effects that drive men in full coat tuxedoes and tie to move to a primal beat, hopping with feet (hooves) and clawing with hands (hooves). They could be horses, cows, sheep, or goats, but, bottom line, they are hormonal men, stomping and prancing and leaping in unison. James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, and Michael Apuzzo could be strutting into a black tie gala or clomping into a stall. And, just when you’re at one with the beat, women with cubical mirrored hats arrive to catch the spotlights and throw them back.
Jennifer Tipton can’t be under-celebrated, as this lighting designer has masterfully designed most of Taylor’s oeuvres, with signature success. John Rawlings’ headpieces are museum-quality, and Scott Barrie’s women’s costumes are also over the top. The complex score, with the percussive overlay, is a combination of Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller. Kudos to Paul Taylor.