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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance, Gala 2017: The Open Door, Continuum, Brandenburgs
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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance, Gala 2017: The Open Door, Continuum, Brandenburgs

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Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance
551 Grand Street, Top Floor
New York, NY, 10002

Phone: 212.431.5562

(Taylor American Modern Dance Website)

Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Music Director and Conductor, Donald York
Featuring the Paul Taylor Dance Company
And Lyon Opera Ballet

Music Performed Live by:
Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Paul Taylor, President, Board of Directors
C.F. Stone III, Chairman, Board of Directors
Bettie de Jong, Rehearsal Director
John Tomlinson, Executive Director
Jennifer Tipton / James F. Ingalls, Principal Lighting Designers
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set & Costume Designer
Lisa Labrado, Director of Public Relations

Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson,
Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney,
Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak,
Heather McGinley, George Smallwood,
Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho
Kristin Draucker

In Performances at the David H. Koch Theater
At Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 9, 2017

(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)

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, now under the umbrella of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe.

The Open Door (NY Premiere): Music by Edward Elgar (Enigma Variations), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Conductor: Ted Sperling, Performed by Michael Novak as The Host, and the Company as The Guests. Mr. Taylor’s newest work, The Open Door, is set to Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Tonight’s Gala introduced this luminous, classy, uplifting ballet, with Michael Novak as a gracious host for an ensemble of invited guests. William Ivey Long’s stunning drawing room, with impressionistically painted curtains, sky, clouds, tall windows, and tall door, presents a lovely row of red chairs, which Mr. Novak deliberately places for intimacy and comfort.

Stunning costumes are worn by each of the ten guests, a daughter and mother, a man in military attire, a fancy-wealthy, heavy woman, a youth in a plaid outfit, a gym fanatic in athletic attire, a fancy man in a red suit, a lady with a painting palette, and another well-dressed duo. George Smallwood arrives in a topcoat with cane, and Francisco Graciano has a military outfit. The refined host, Mr. Novak, encourages the characters to dance; some dance alone, some in duo partnering, some loosely in a group (I was busy focusing on the gorgeous set and costumes). Each character exudes unique personality and gesture, mostly comedic, à la Taylor. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of military-styled battle, a bit of jealousy, a bit of angst, a bit of loneliness, and much hilarity. When the guests are out the open door, Mr. Novak dances alone in reverie. Ted Sperling conducted Orchestra of St. Luke’s in the gorgeous Elgar score. Kudos to William Ivey Long.

Continuum (NY Premiere): Music by Max Richter (Recomposed: The Four Seasons), Choreography by Lila York, Asst. to Choreographer: Alex Clayton, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Conductor: Ted Sperling, Violin: Krista Bennion Feeney, Performed by the Company.

Lila York is a fascinating choreographer, and her new work, Continuum, must be seen again and often. This premiere is set to Max Richter’s take on the Vivaldi masterpiece, Recomposed: The Four Seasons. With stunning beige-grey ensemble costumes designed by Santo Loquasto, this lovely dance features the spritely Eran Bugge in a bright red dress, flowing in flight. The group’s ebullient motion is stormy, especially that of Michael Trusnovec, who sometimes moves against the stage floor. Also, Laura Halzack is featured in a semi-pas de deux, with Mr. Trusnovec elsewhere on the stage. Krista Bennion Feeney was solo violinist with St. Luke’s Orchestra, conducted by Mr. Sperling. Ms. York, a former dancer in the Taylor Company, on whom many lead roles were choreographed, has created in Continuum a dance that begs her for more choreographies in the near future.

Brandenburgs (1988): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Brandenburg Concertos No. 6 (movements 1 &2) and No. 3), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Ted Sperling, Performed by the Company.

The Gala ended splendidly with Brandenburgs on the program. Set to excerpts of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, dancers in a parade of two, three, or four leap like wild antelopes right stage to left. Michael Trusnovec appears and re-appears, as the music swells and fills the theater with drama. Mr. Trusnovec danced a pas de quatre with three women with aplomb. The bare-chested men were glistening in Jennifer Tipton’s glowing lights, as the choreography became heated. This work is a release of joy, an embrace of jubilance. Martha Graham’s pelvic-centered momentum, with arms slicing the air like propellers, was evident. Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, and Eran Bugge, along with Mr. Trusnovec, were compelling and spell-binding. The male cast, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, and Michael Novak added bravura heft. Santo Loquasto’s black-grey, velvety costumes are iconic Taylor.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at