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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Dances of Isadora, Banquet of Vultures, Esplanade
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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance: Dances of Isadora, Banquet of Vultures, Esplanade

- 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

Dancers:
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
www.lincolncenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 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.

On second viewing this season, Lori Belilove’s staging of Dances of Isadora, for this Paul Taylor American Dance umbrella New York season, was even more breathtaking. Once again, the solo dancer was the New York City Ballet Principal, Sara Mearns, performing ten brief dances to piano scores by Chopin, Brahms, and Liszt, all performed on piano by Cameron Grant, who has accompanied Ms. Mearns for years on this stage during City Ballet’s varied seasons.

Tonight, Ms. Mearns, in Ms. Belilove’s own set and costume design, requisite Duncan-styled scarf included, was effusive and ebullient during this gorgeous 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. She seemed more relaxed and free-floating tonight.

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.


Banquet of Vultures (2005): Music by Morton Feldman Oboe and Orchestra, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. One of Mr. Taylor's dark pieces and ever so relevant as a statement on war, is described on the program with a quote from John Davidson, "…For war breeds war again!" Jennifer Tipton has created smoke and dim lights, and the ensemble carries tiny lit candles that open the scene in eerie angst. Dancers have masks, headbands, and unisex costumes (thanks to Santo Loquasto), so one does not actually know who they are, except Michael Trusnovec and Jamie Rae Walker, two of Mr. Taylor's renowned dancers. Mr. Trusnovec seems to be the metaphor for the government (my own interpretation), as he wears a dark suit and red tie, and Ms. Walker seems to be the metaphor for cannon fodder, as she is physically worn down in one long agonizing dance with Mr. Trusnovec.

The "soldiers" are slapped hard on the back or neck with the side of Mr. Trusnovec's hand, as one by one they fall into a heap of lifeless bodies. Mr. Trusnovec moves with sensational athleticism, lifting a leg above the mass of prostate dancers or leaping sideways into the air, his face to the side, intense and glaring. Morton Feldman's score is haunting and sharp, and Robert Kleinendorst also has a solo that mesmerizes the viewers. In 2005, during the Iraq War, Mr. Taylor and his team created a serious, searing work, that still stands on its own as a metaphor for political expediency and exploitation.


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 the Company.

As the final piece of the final program of my 2018 Taylor season, Mr. Taylor’s incomparable 1975 Esplanade provided a kaleidoscope of color and acrobatics, tumbling, jumping, leaping, lunging, lifting, rolling, skipping, spinning, running, and piling/climbing onto, through, and over each other in John Rawlings' costumes of pastel oranges and pinks. Space was palpable, in choreographic design, and spring was near, as Johann Sebastian Bach's two Concerti and Rawlings' sleeveless costumes seemed to invite warmer weather after our long, brutal New York winter. In fact, just as spring is about to appear, every March, the Taylor Season nurtures the New York dance community with warm breezes and splendid, energized dance.


Kudos to Paul Taylor.



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




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


















For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net