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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Gala Anniversary Finale
-Onstage with the Dancers

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Paul Taylor Dance Company
50th Anniversary Season
552 Broadway
NY, NY 10012
Phone: 212 431 5562
(Taylor Dance Company Website)

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
www.citycenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 20, 2005

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

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.


Black Tuesday (2001): Songs from the Great Depression, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. I must buy this music. Walking through certain New York neighborhoods, in current, flimsy economic conditions, this Taylor dance, with its haunting Depression era songs, comes to mind vividly. Santo Loquasto's set and costumes are nothing short of magnificent, no hyperbole intended. The belly of the bridges, the belly of the pregnant prostitute, suspenders, caps, ballroom shoes, and pathos, these are the ingredients of this most perfect work. Songs like Sittin' on a Rubbish Can and Brother Can You Spare a Dime? come to life with Silvia Nevjinsky in the former and Patrick Corbin in the latter. Lighting is central to this drama, and Jennifer Tipton gets it right, as hands held out for that elusive dime glow against a blackened stage.

The Boulevard of Broken Breams, with Annmaria Mazzini in radiant splendor, has some of the most expressive choreography in the Taylor repertoire. Lisa Viola, as adorable tramp was in her usual Ginseng en energy level, and her campy and cavorting dance brought the house to a roar. Another roar occurred after Patrick Corbin's final solo, as today's matinee marked his early retirement from the Taylor Dance Company. Today's matinee also marked the finale of the 50th Anniversary Season, and the stage filled with all (I presume) living Taylor alumni, including many who continue in some rehearsal or administrative capacities.


Black Tuesday
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield


Klezmerbluegrass (New York Premiere, Celebrating 350 years of Jewish life in America): Traditional music arranged by Margot Leverett, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. I hadn't had such an ethnic rush since seeing Fiddler for the second time, with a small chain of men in leg swivels and hats bearing upright bottles. Klezmerbluegrass fuses traditional Klezmer and Bluegrass, arranged by Margot Leverett, and the music is almost intoxicating, a powerful dance propellant. I could feel the audience's need to clap or move, but they remained mostly magnetized to the blue-red costumes and bright blue backdrop, as full cast, ensembles, and duets danced barefoot with effortless excitement and ecstasy.

The National Foundation for Jewish Culture commissioned this piece, and it is to the eclecticism and professionalism of Paul Taylor that he is able to celebrate so many American cultures, ethnicities, and societal strata in his vast and diverse repertoire. As this was the Anniversary finale matinee, the audience of Taylor alumni, patrons, and longtime fans were quite vocal in appreciation of each and every dance and each and every dancer. The six musical works in Klezmerbluegrass,/I> were each more inviting than the previous, such as Leather Britches and Yiddish Folk Melody. Julie Tice and Michael Trusnovec almost stole the show, except for Richard Chen See's earlier, electric solo.


Klezmer Bluegrass
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield


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, prior to the onstage announcements and gathering of Taylor alumni, staff, and Company, 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 2 Concerti and Rawlings' sleeveless costumes seemed to invite warmer weather and a new beginning.

Paul Taylor and his Paul Taylor Dance Company deserve fifty kudos for fifty years of tirelessly entertaining the American and international audiences by the thousands, with their rich and varied repertoire of daring and dynamic dances. I wish for you fifty more years of seamless success.


Esplanade
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield
 

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