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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Set and Reset, Runes, Mercuric Tidings
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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Set and Reset, Runes, Mercuric Tidings

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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002

Phone: 212.431.5562

(Taylor American Modern Dance Website)

Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Music Director and Conductor, Donald York
Conductor, David LaMarche
Featuring the Paul Taylor Dance Company
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Sara Mearns
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 Marketing & Public Relations

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

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 20, 2018

(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 American Modern Dance, is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe.

Set and Reset (1983): Choreography by Trisha Brown, Original Music by Laurie Anderson, Long Time No See, Recorded by Laurie Anderson and Richard Landry, Visual Presentation and Costumes by Robert Rauschenberg, Lights by Beverly Emmons with Robert Rauschenberg, Performed by the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s Cecily Campbell, Marc Crousillat, Kimberly Fulmer, Leah Ives, Jamie Scot, Sam Wentz.

It is a shame that Trisha Brown, who died just one year ago, could not attend this marvelous performance, including her Company in the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance umbrella season. The six dancers, listed above, filled out the Koch Theater stage with eye-catching movement in this very abstract Set and Reset, from 1983. Laurie Anderson’s recording of “Long Time No See” opens as we see a newsprint-type video backdrop, with low tech and environmental sound, much like street and building ambient tracks. Soon the dancers appear in Robert Rauschenberg’s costumes that echo his monochrome video creations, with men bare-chested and women in silk, billowy pants and tops. All dancers are intense and deliberate in motion. The languid choreography includes lifts and gravitational push-pull. The figures are often weightless, and seem to mesh with the backdrop and wall. Arms, sometimes like propellers, also sway and turn. At one point a dancer falls, and others climb over. Randomness abounds.

Runes – secret writings for casting a spell (1975): Music specially composed by Gerald Busby, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by George Tacet, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. According to the program, Runes are "secret writings for casting a spell." I have found this choreography to be stylistically Egyptian, with angular hands, elbows, and feet, as well as intensely focused duets that resemble primordial and primitive characters. The male dancers sport fur on their backs, and the torso contractions are sexual and suggestive. The shadows in Jennifer Tipton's lighting are extremely effective, and the earth tones of the costumes are perfectly conceived. This is always a highly kinetic and spirited dance, and, as the moon changes positions in the sky, the mood seems to change, as well. Gerald Busby's solo piano score, performed expertly by Margaret Kampmeier, is dissonant and driven. My eye caught Michael Trusnovec, Parisa Khobdeh, Laura Halzack, Kristin Draucker, and Christina Lynch Markham, all prominently featured. The ensemble of eleven was, as ever, in excellent form; in fact, the dancers once again seemed to cast a spell on the audience in this ethereal work.

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 Laura Halzack, James Samson, and the Company. Mercuric Tidings is a pure and ecstatic work, all in red shadings against a red backdrop, warm and evocative, athletic and airy. As ever, the piece evokes an extreme lightness, as dancers silently leap into partners' arms, with seeming effortlessness, the inherent silence as dramatic as the moving, visual image. Schubert's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, superlatively conducted by David LaMarche, generated swirling and soaring leaps and some of the most exquisite figures Mr. Taylor has designed. Ms. Halzack and Mr. Samson were extremely powerful and flawless in their leads.

Again, Jennifer Tipton is deserving of kudos for her incredible creativity with warm, glowing, and ever-changing lighting effects that allow the simplest of backdrops and theatrical spotlights to showcase this sensational Company. With and without sets, the Koch Theater stage was brilliant and beautiful. Mr. Taylor imbued this work with imagination and energy.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

Trisha Brown Dance Company
in Trisha Brown's "Set and Reset"
Courtesy of Whitney Browne

Trisha Brown Dance Company
in Trisha Brown's "Set and Reset"
Courtesy of Whitney Browne

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