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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Mercuric Tidings, Scudorama, Esplanade

- Onstage with the Dancers

Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
Phone: 212.431.5562
Fax: 212.966.5673
(Taylor Dance Company Website)

Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
And Chairman Board of Trustees
Robert E. Aberlin, President, Board of Trustees
Bettie de Jong, Rehearsal Director
Martin I Kagin, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Lisa Labrado, MWW Group

Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein,
Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson,
Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Patrick Mahoney,
Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo,

In Performances at City Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 6, 2009

(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)

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 for the latest tour dates.

Mercuric Tidings (1982): Music by Franz Schubert (Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Amy Young, Michael Trusnovec, and the Company. On second viewing within a week, I was struck by a sense of reliable force, and I ruminated on the idea of a Company forged by choreography of its Creator, such as the Ailey and Graham Companies. Taylor’s entire oeuvre is generally predictable, in that new choreography (or new to the viewer) will add an element of surprise, and existing choreography (revisited by the viewer) will reveal an additional nuance.

On today’s revisiting of Mercuric Tidings, I was reminded of my 2004 comments about this work. Once again, I noticed the extreme lightness of dancers leaping into their partners' arms, with seeming effortlessness, the inherent silence as dramatic as the moving, visual image. Schubert's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 generate swirling and soaring leaps and some of the most exquisite figures Mr. Taylor has designed. Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young were flawless in their leads. Santo Loquasto’s new blue costumes shone brightly in Jennifer Tipton’s warm, glowing, and ever-changing lighting effects. Tipton always showcases this Company to illuminating effect.

Scudorama (1963): Music specially composed by Clarence Jackson, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, original lighting by Thomas Skelton, Lighting recreated by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. The re-mounting of this rare 1963 work, set to Clarence Jackson’s eerie score, against black clouds on a light sky, was brilliant. I wondered if Taylor is a fan of Magritte. In my program notations, I wrote “majestic, inspired”. Characters, bundled under colorful blankets evoke Taylor’s use of a Dante quote on the program, “… These are the nearly soulless, Whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise”.

Each of the eight dancers was in bright red, purple, green or yellow, with three women in black unitards and white collars, thanks to Alex Katz’ unusual costuming. Then again, there is never anything “usual” about Taylor’s visual effects. The blanketed figures move in and out of the covering, like homeless souls. In fact, this entire piece seemed to be an homage to the homeless, with Michael Trusnovec dressed as a passerby, a businessman, and the three women in black unitards and white collars (Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Jamie Rae Walker) perhaps as detached religious figures. The Dante quote made me think this was not a dream sequence, like other Taylor works, e.g. “Sueños…”, but rather a provocation of conscience and a comment on organized religion, perhaps. My notations also referred to Taylor’s choreographic quotes of his mentor, Martha Graham, in pelvic leg thrusts and overt, internal angst. As always, Jennifer Tipton did a splendid lighting recreation. I look forward to revisiting this fascinating, restaged work next Season.

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. No Taylor Season is complete without at least one Esplanade experience. This athletic, aerobic, spirited work also contains a hunched, glowing dancer, a gripping moment. Bach’s music was never scored to more ambitious artistry. Every thematic detail is put to good use: rolling on the floor into the wings, leaping over dancers, one at a time in rows, jumping onto chests, all in undetermined dance direction. There is buoyant, unrestrained joy, and there is internalized lament. There is dizzying dervish, and there is graceful stillness. No Esplanade viewing is the same as the previous one, or the one that follows. Not for the viewer, and not for the dancers. This is such a wide open work, that new dancers add new dimensions. And, amazingly, these performers had already been in at least one of tonight’s other works. Stamina extraordinaire.

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