Paul Taylor Dance Company - Cloven Kingdom, Last Look, Offenbach Overtures
-Onstage with the Dancers
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Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Norton Belknap, President, Board of Directors
Bettie De Jong, Rehearsal Director
Wallace Chappell, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Jennifer Lerner
Dancers: Patrick Corbin, Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Silvia Nevjinsky, Andy LeBeau, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Nathaniel Keuter
In Performances at City Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
March 18, 2005
Years ago, Paul Taylor danced with my Modern Dance Master Class at Skidmore College. For many years, I have been part of Mr. Taylor's devoted audience and have seen him as an inspiring dancer and as a creative choreographer. Mr. Taylor has been one of my long-time heroes of the Arts. He always sits in the audience, watching his Company perform. And, he always stands onstage, as did his mentor, Martha Graham, to accept accolades, after the final curtain. Mr. Taylor obviously delights in the success of his Company and loyal advisors, and, in fact, Ms. Bettie De Jong, whom I had seen as one of Mr. Taylor's original soloists and as his dance partner, has been with the Taylor Company for over 40 years and is currently his Rehearsal Director.
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 is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe. Visit www.paultaylor.org for the latest tour dates.
Cloven Kingdom (1976): Music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller (Combined by John Herbert McDowell), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Women's Costumes by Scott Barrie, Headpieces by John Rawlings, Men's Formalwear courtesy of After Six, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Based on Baruch Spinoza's "Man is a social animal", with male dancers in tuxedoes, and females in pastel dresses, formal music drives formal dance. When the music shifts to contemporary cacophony, the behavior shifts as well, and the men become animals on all fours, and the women go amuck. This dance creates new meaning for everyone, who has attended a formal party, where people misbehave, and misbehave badly. Yet, there is no alcohol here, only Baroque gone ballistic and men gone drag.
The playfulness of this work is very Paul Taylor, and the contrasts in choreography and mood magnetize the audience, as it abandons expectation and awaits the element of surprise.
Last Look (1985): Music specially composed by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. The vertical mirrors that reflect the psychic longings, self-doubt, and fear of the characters onstage, the dancers as actors, also somewhat reflect the audience, itself, depending on the angle. This piece seems to most closely resemble Martha Graham's percussive style of guttural and muscular movement, as well as Graham's mythological roots of subconscious desire and subsequent action. (Taylor was a member of the Graham Company).
There are, as in many of Taylor's dances, stark contrasts of staging and choreography, and, in this case, dancers pile up as a mountain of grief and then dance solo, in extended existentialism or disengaged existence. The bright colors of Alex Katz' costumes stand out against Katz' mirrored set, and the silhouetted lighting effects are thanks to Jennifer Tipton in collaboration with Paul Taylor's concept. Last Look is a piece to be seen multiple times for its complexities of visual and emotional imagery.
Offenbach Overtures (1995): Music by Jacques Offenbach, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. As an inveterate balletomane, it's hard to enjoy camp ballet, with short ballroom shoes and Napoleonic hats, but this time around I did enjoy this work. The chiaroscuro silhouettes, capturing huge red tutus and huge black hats, preceded and followed by huge colorful behavior, are worth seeing this dance alone. To Offenbach's Can-Can music, these fourteen dancers mimic a ballet nightmare, with off-balance, klutzy choreography and tipsy ballerinas not en pointe. Lisa Viola was on Energizer batteries, as she threw herself into brilliant pantomime.