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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Dances of Isadora, Concertiana, Promethean Fire
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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Dances of Isadora, Concertiana, Promethean Fire

- Onstage with the Dancers
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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 22, 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.

Dances of Isadora (1900-1924, restaged 2018): Music by Frederick Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Choreography by Isadora Duncan, Artistic Direction and staging by Lori Belilove, Set and costume design by Lori Belilove, Lighting design by Rob Brown, Piano: Cameron Grant, Performed by Sara Mearns.

Lori Belilove, Founder and Artistic Director of The Isadora Duncan Foundation & Company, and a Duncan trained dancer and performer, herself, staged Dances of Isadora for this Paul Taylor American Dance umbrella New York season at Koch Theater. The solo dancer in this rare and magnificent work is the New York City Ballet Principal, Sara Mearns, a familiar figure on these pages, having been reviewed in Company ballets, galas, and festivals. Ms. Belilove’s 2018 staging includes ten brief dances to piano scores by Chopin, Brahms, and Liszt, all performed by Cameron Grant, also a familiar name on these pages, and one who has accompanied Ms. Mearns on piano for years on this stage during City Ballet’s varied seasons.

Ms. Mearns, in Ms. Belilove’s own set and costume design, requisite Duncan-styled scarf included, was equally elegant and ecstatic during this exquisite series of dance vignettes, each set to its own music, its own mood, its own rhythms, with barefoot dance and arms uplifted in prancing, skipping, hopping, leaping, twirling, and even butterfly motifs. Ms. Mearns’ long golden hair and flowing, silken, peach costume, with pale peach scarf, gave each vignette a sense of sensuality and surrealness. The work opens with Chopin’s “Prelude, Op. 28”, and continues with his “Op. 64” (Narcissus Waltz), “Mazurka, Op. 33” (Capture), “Etude, Op. 25” (Butterfly Etude), “Etude, Op. 25” (Harp Etude), “Mazurka, Op. 33” (Death and the Maiden), and “Mazurka, Op. 68” (Gypsy Mazurka). Brahms’ “Waltz, Op. 39” (Flames of the Heart) and his “Waltz, Op. 39” (Rose Petals), are performed with the Liszt “Les Funérailles” in between. I look forward to another viewing of this fanciful, whimsical, high spirited solo, along with Mr. Grant’s highly professional piano performance.

Concertiana (Premiere Season): Music by Eric Ewazen, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Conductor: David LaMarche, Violin: Krista Bennion Feeney, Performed by the Company.

On second viewing this Taylor season, Mr. Taylor’s newest choreography, Concertiana, was even more powerful, as the same cast took on extra confidence and mastery. Eric Ewazin’s score, with Krista Bennion Feeney’s violin solo, was once again conducted by David LaMarche, and he, too, seemed to imbue this recently introduced music with extra bounce and layers of harmony. William Ivey Long’s blue unitards blazed in the James F. Ingalls lighting design. The two new members of the Company, Alex Clayton and Lee Duveneck, seemed also more possessed and comfortable on this New York stage. The five additional men, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak, and George Smallwood, as well as the four women, Eran Bugge, Heather McGinley, Christina Lynch Markham, and Madeline Ho, spread arms like wings, soared like helicopters, and crawled like crustaceans.

Once again, the natural street motion, so renowned in Mr. Taylor’s 1975 Esplanade, walking, running, sliding, rolling, leaping, with arms in constant motion and strong torso muscularity, was all on view in the new Concertiana. The contemporary score by Mr. Ewazin was more familiar this week and still interesting. And, as in the previous viewing, Ms. McGinley, Ms. Ho, Ms. Bugge, and Ms. Markham each caught the eye in brief and longer solos, all proudly performing for Mr. Taylor’s lasting legacy of about 147 unique choreographies in a span of six decades or so. I again loved the sight of one woman leaping into the arms of two men, who swing her about, evocative of traditional ballet, with romance and youthfulness. Speaking of romance and youthfulness, I noted a similarity in the Concertiana choreography, with uplifted, swinging arms and Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring, which takes Mr. Taylor back to his roots in the Graham Company.

Promethean Fire (2002): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski, Toccata & Fugue in D minor, Prelude in E-flat minor, and Chorale Prelude, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

Since 2002, on first viewing this piece, I have been continuously dazzled with the athleticism and power of the Taylor Company, from the opening chords of the Bach Toccata & Fugue, as the dancers stand in warmly lit stillness. Mr. Taylor’s Promethean Fire commemorates the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001, and the audience is enveloped in the energy of the Toccata & Fugue, Prelude, and Chorale, the resonant chords of the organ (or keyboard), and the hypnotic and mesmerizing intertwining of bodies onstage and mid-air. Parisa Khobdeh’s sudden leap onto Michael Trusnovec's waiting chest and arms always catches me by surprise. This is always a breathless moment for the audience, as well.

As in season’s before, this work still seems too short. I never want it to end. Hearing this sumptuous Bach score performed live, under Donald York’s baton, is always a riveting experience. Santo Loquasto’s velvety, sleeveless, dark, gold-striped unitards enhance the import and weight of this work. Mr. Taylor was obviously inspired to respond, choreographically, to a tragedy of dire proportion, and this remains one of his finest accomplishments. The score is dynamic and dramatic, the energy is extraordinary, and the Company dances as if one. This piece should still appear annually as a reminder of the collaborative strength in coming together in New York and the nation.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

Sara Mearns in "Dances of Isadora"
Courtesy of Whitney Browne

Sara Mearns in "Dances of Isadora"
Courtesy of Whitney Browne

Kristin Draucker in
Paul Taylor's "Concertiana"
Courtesy of Paul B. Goode

George Smallwood, Eran Bugge, Lee Duveneck
in Paul Taylor's "Concertiana"
Courtesy of Paul B. Goode

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