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Paul Taylor American Modern Dance
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director

Presents the Documentary Film:
“Paul Taylor: Creative Domain”

In Performances at
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Press: Lisa Labrado, Director PR,

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 11, 2015

(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)

Kate Geis’ new documentary, Paul Taylor: Creative Domain, largely focusing on the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s choreographic design process of Three Dubious Memories, in preparation for its debut, was mesmerizing for a longtime fan of Mr. Taylor and his modern dance repertory. The film begins with a clip of Mr. Taylor dancing in his prime in the 1960’s, and moves quickly to interviews of Mr. Taylor in 2010, in his 80’s. The work in focus, Three Dubious Memories got a rave review on these pages on February 22, 2011, in its New York Premiere. It is based, says Mr. Taylor, in the film, on an idea from the 1950 Kurosawa film Rashomon, with different first-hand interpretations of a single incident. During tonight’s Opening Night of the Taylor documentary, we were witnesses to conversations with the lucky composer, Peter Elyakim Taussig, whose score (from “Five Enigmas”) was chosen by Mr. Taylor, from many submissions, for this new work. We were also privy to conversations with Jennifer Tipton, Taylor’s longtime Principal Lighting Designer, and Santo Loquasto, Taylor’s longtime Principal Costume Designer. It was thrilling to see Mr. Loquasto’s background planning that brings this new work onstage, with Amy Young as The Woman in Red, Robert Kleinendorst as The Man in Green, and Sean Mahoney as The Man in Blue. Coincidentally, Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Kleinendorst spoke at the after-film talkback, adding personal memories of their own, more than four years after the Three Dubious Memories Premiere.

In the film, Mr. Kleinendorst and Ms. Young were actually dating as an offstage couple, and, when Mr. Taylor chose them as the romantic couple at the center of the choreography, their relationship moved forward. They are now happily married with a two year-old daughter, as I learned at the evening’s reception. In the 2010 creation of this dance (now one of Taylor’s 142 dance works) at the Grand Street studios, Mr. Taylor likens the motion to natural, street walking and nuanced personal gestures. Throughout the process, we see close-ups of the company, even as the ensemble and leads are chosen, when we’re privy to the intense disappointment of those who leave the studio, to make way for Ms. Young, Mr. Kleinendorst, Mr. Mahoney, James Sampson (The Choirmaster), and the dancers in the Choir ensemble, who, like Mr. Sampson, will be costumed in grey. During the clips of the company’s creative workshops, as well as the rehearsals, we see the featured ensemble making eager suggestions to propel the fluidity and meaningfulness of the dance, as well as the ambiguity of the three takes on the personalities and love interests of each of the three leads. We also see Bettie de Jong, a former Taylor partner and now Rehearsal Director, and Andy LeBeau, also a former Taylor dancer, now Assistant to Mr. Taylor, both actively involved in the workshops and rehearsals. Mr. LeBeau has tremendous rapport with Mr. Taylor, as they show the dance to the composer for the first time, in their studio.

The film’s finale is the actual 2011 NY Premiere, with my review of that evening linked again here. The documentary’s Director, Kate Geis, has maximized the rare opportunity to watch a master artist’s thinking process and to watch the element of chance, as one dancer might suggest a way to avoid a dance collision or moment of imbalance, and then the working ensemble carries that suggestion to the next sequence. Cinematographer, Tom Hurwitz, brings the viewer’s eye to the eyes of the participants, to sense tension and relief, at different points in the choreographic process. He also films with a natural, casual approach, allowing expressiveness of the participants in gestalt. The Producer, Robert Aberlin, who, like Ms. Geis and Mr. Hurwitz, attended the talkback, made a wise choice to focus on the last of the living founders of the American Modern Dance genre. Paul Taylor, now 85, will present his newest choreographies at Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, in performances starting March 16, 2016.


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