Paul Taylor Dance Company - Polaris, Lines of Loss, Company B
-Onstage with the Dancers
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Paul Taylor Dance Company
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: Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Michael Trusnovec,
Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young,
Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzak
In Performances at City Center
By Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
March 16, 2007
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.
Polaris (1976): Music specially composed by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. This uniquely conceived dance involves one choreography, two ensembles, two scores, brief black/white costumes, and two lighting designs. An open metal box is the prop for both Parts, with dancers entering and departing, one by one, sometimes stiffly and sometimes casually.
Part I was upbeat, occasionally slow, with galloping steps, up-stretched arms, and sideways leaps. Part II was far more interesting, with eerie tones, edgy attitude, and sharp, percussive motion, that had been rounder-edged and softer in mood in the previous Part. Part II was technically darker as well, but I had not noticed this effect until the light shone at the finale, when the Part I ensemble returned to their original positions. This is a must-see-again work, as the commonalities of the Parts are not as obvious as the differences, and to form a mental gestalt of this choreography would be a pleasant challenge.
Lines of Loss (World Premiere): Music by Guillaume de Machaut, Christopher Tye, Jack Body, John Cage, Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. I had expected something quite dramatic and dramatic this was, a world premiere about loss and alienation. A poem by William D. Snodgrass precedes this work's description in the program notes, "…Rich in the loss of all I sing…" Six composers are represented in nine segments, with eleven dancers interpreting Mr. Taylor's eclectic creation. Female dancers slid down the male dancers' shoulders and torsos, with long white robes creating a monk-like mood.
Santo Loquasto's backdrop included hand-drawn lines, each line possibly representing loss of a loved one or friend or soldier or parent, and on and on, like lines of sand at the breaking shore. The explosive choreography, with dancers sometimes catapulting themselves into each other's arms and catapulting their partners into the arms of another, was magnetic. There are percussive arm sweeps into the air and angst-ridden tosses against the stage floor. In the finale, to Schnittke's music, with Lisa Viola partnering Michael Trusnovec, following a solo turn for each in earlier segments, the reddest of robes radiated through the drapes of white. In the closing segment, the sound of bells seemed to toll like a church funeral, surreal and sensitive. Mr. Taylor has designed another masterpiece.
Company B (1991):. Music – Songs sung by the Andrews Sisters, sentiments during WWII, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. On second viewing this month, I was more aware of nuance; that is, male dancers falling to the floor in silence as the "Company" danced on, a World War II motif in score and costume, but a very current motif in political relevance. Sometimes the silhouetted, hazy background (thanks to Jennifer Tipton) allowed this nuanced imagery to be even more jolting. One disappointment: Francisco Graciano changed his balletic choreography to "Tico-Tico". He was more restrained and less aerobic, but still a riveting presence, a fresh addition to this seasoned company. On second viewing I was also able to relax and enjoy the pure talent of the Swing dances, so vibrant and joyful, which, again, presented such stark contrast to the silently falling men.
Paul Taylor's Lines of Loss
Photo courtesy of Tom Caravaglia