Paul Taylor Dance Company
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
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 Halzack
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 16, 2008
(See Other Taylor 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.
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. This truly whimsical ballet is one of my favorites. I remembered the segment for the four male dancers, in tuxedoes, with their arms bent forward like deer or kangaroos, dancing in exuberant rhythms, like woodland creatures on ginseng. However, I had not remembered the full-length version, with the female dancers in balloon and silver square hats that reflect the light and send bits of light back to the audience, via the walls and backdrop. Light is always important to the Taylor genre, and here Jennifer Tipton showcases her talent once again.
Scott Barrie’s sleeveless female costumes add the illusion of elegance, that affirms the male tuxedo imagery, while John Rawlings’ shiny geometric headpieces remind us that this is all the finest sort of fun. The cadence of the combined score is infused with contrasts and similarities as the male and female dancers shift and shuffle. Today was Lisa Viola’s New York Farewell, and she shone brightly in the female ensemble of eight. Taylor quotes Spinoza, “Man is a social animal”.
Lines of Loss (2007): Music by Guillaume de Machaut, Christopher Tye, Jack Body, John Cage, Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Taylor quotes Snodgrass, “No moon outlives its leaving night…Rich in the loss of all I sing…”. The nine segments of this ballet are divided into the names of the score’s six composers, plus “bells”, the final segment. The Schnittke pas de deux between Lisa Viola and Michael Trusnovec was slow and sorrowful. This is a ballet about loss and lamentation. In fact, Annmaria Mazzini’s Schnittke solo, with its contractions and releases of the torso, was evocative of Martha Graham’s 1930’s “Lamentation”.
The white costumes allow for silhouetted lighting effects, and the dancers repeatedly form lines throughout this ballet. Lines also appear in Santo Loquasto’s linear backdrop, with a minimalist, contemporary motif, resembling lines in the sand, those that are erased on the rising of the tide. Robert Kleinendorst’s solo is powerful and poignant, and Richard Chen See and James Samson dance a grief-laden duo. Dancers bend backward and forward in propulsive pathos. The finale, with the dancers in red, forming yet another line, includes a mournful march to the “bells”. This could be a statement about collective loss, such as war, or about personal loss of loved ones, but, in either case, Lines of Loss rivets the audience in its simplicity and force.
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, Michael Trusnovec, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Julie Tice, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, and Laura Halzack.
For Lisa Viola’s Farewell dance in New York, Paul Taylor wisely chose Esplanade. One could hardly imagine Ms. Viola retiring from the stage, with her buoyant leaps over huddled bodies and her bounding leaps into waiting arms. Bach’s score of two Concerti lends a mood of classicism, and the dances take that classicism to robust athleticism. It was good to see Richard Chen See in rare form, no character costume (see other 2008 Taylor reviews). The motion of this ballet includes sudden shifts in direction, shifts in balance, shifts in level (air or stage), and shifts in groupings, ensemble, solo, duo, and even double-entendres. Ms. Viola received a large bouquet of red roses at the curtain, and, as always, Paul Taylor was onstage with his Company to take a bow and cradle Ms. Viola in her visible emotions. Kudos to Lisa Viola. And, kudos to Paul Taylor.
Courtesy of Maxine Hicks