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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Gala Performance: Brandenburgs, Brief Encounters
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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Gala Performance: Brandenburgs, Brief Encounters

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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
John Tomlinson, Managing Director
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set & Costume Designer
Press, Lisa Labrado: Porter Novelli

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 Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo

In Performances at City Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 2, 2010

(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 almost 50 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.


Brandenburgs (1988): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Brandenburg Concertos No. 6, No. 3), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

Tonight’s Gala Performance in the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s annual City Center Season opened with Brandenburgs, a 1988 work set to two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Mr. Taylor’s eloquent choreography included Martha Graham-like pelvic-centered momentum, with arms slicing the air like propellers. Clearly Mr. Taylor viewed his creation as ebullient and glowing. Michael Trusnovec was in quintessential fine form, leading an ensemble of nine, with three women seamlessly alternating in the flowing figures. Seductive pas de deux were thrown in for effect, with Mr. Taylor’s iconic playfulness, and Amy Young, Parisa Khobdeh, and Eran Bugge were all effervescent and radiant.

Brief Encounters (New York Premiere): Music by Claude Debussy (Le Coin des Enfants), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Performed by the Company. Brief Encounters, one of Mr. Taylor’s new works (at the age of 80 yet), is already becoming one of my favorites in his vast repertoire. He uses Debussy’s “Children’s Corner” in an orchestration by André Caplet. Once again Michael Trusnovec, one of New York’s most fascinating dancers of all time, was among the ensemble of eleven. In Santo Loquasto’s brief burgundy-black costumes, the dancers are lit (by James F. Ingalls) in shifting patterns, with the backdrop turning from glowing gold to passionate purple.

The ensemble introduces a circular dance with held hands and a sense of closeness. Then the dancers shift to solos, duos, trios, as elation and exhilaration turns to flirtation, coyness, self-absorption, intimacy, loneliness, quietude, and abandon. Julie Tice and James Samson are especially mesmerizing in a dramatic interlude of innocent seduction, that brought in Mr. Trusnovec, like youths experimenting with their bodies and emotions. Amy Young has a moment with a mirror, which helps her love, then despise her own facial presence. Sean Mahoney and Francisco Graciano caught my eye for their total role absorption and stirring presence. Mr. Taylor’s use of “Children’s Corner” adds to the irony, as the experimenting youths pass from adolescence to adulthood.

I wish the Taylor Company would mount a lecture event with Santo Loquasto (plus Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer) and James F. Ingalls to discuss their choice of costumes and lighting and the creative process, in a variety of works. Even a brief film would do, between the live performances.

Also Playing – Dedicated to all Vaudevillians, especially those who went on no matter what (New York Premiere): Music by Gaetano Donizetti (Excerpts from Dom Sébastien and L’assedio di Calais), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

After years of praising Mr. Taylor’s expansive repertoire, here is a piece I found somewhat annoying. Disjointed balletic camp is what I would call it, and the mocking use of Donizetti’s bel canto music was an affront to balletomanes and opera buffs, as well. It’s fine to use Offenbach for his superb Offenbach Overture, which has amusing balletic mime, but Also Playing is too heavy of satire, to the point of exhaustion. Jeffrey Smith, Annmaria Mazzini, Julie Tice, Michelle Fleet, and Parisa Khobdeh create a fast-paced tap dance, as Vaudevillians making the most of the rhythm and humor. Yet, the Apache dance of Ms. Fleet and Orion Duckstein, followed by a Waltz/Apache, by Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Ms. Fleet, and Mr. Duckstein, was more provoking and irritating than just plain funny. However, I’d be happy to give this new work another viewing next season, with another impression.

Paul Taylor
Courtesy of Maxine Hicks

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