Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(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 6, Matinee, 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 www.paultaylor.org for the latest tour dates.
Dandelion Wine (2000): Music by Pietro Locatelli (Concerto No. 2 in C minor), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
Although this work premiered in 2000, I barely remembered it, or probably did not see it until tonight. I loved this dance, with a characterization of moving yellow-green weeds, caught up in human puzzles, that morphed into intertwining weeds. Mr. Taylor showed us his renowned whimsical side, and I found this piece refreshing and different. He has dancers bend their arms under and over each other, just as dandelions grab onto each other in the garden. I can just imagine Mr. Taylor observing his lawn and making choreography out of persistent dandelions. Then he feeds them imaginary wine.
The dancers are very musical, punctuating rhythmic gestures, swiveling from their torsos. Robert Kleinendorst led this piece with fanciful delight. Michael Trusnovec, however, once more riveted my eye, as he lights up the stage at every moment. Annmaria Mazzini and Orion Duckstein were busy, and it occurred to me that Mr. Taylor is lucky to be able to have a consistent and workable Company, on whom he can expand and refine his unique choreography. Very few Companies present works, all by one longtime choreographer, who still takes a very hands-on approach. How lucky they are, and how lucky we are.
Runes – secret writings for casting a spell (1975): Music specially composed by Gerald Busby, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by George Tacet, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. According to the program, Runes are "secret writings for casting a spell." I found the choreography to be stylistically Egyptian, with angular hands, elbows, and feet, as well as intensely focused duets that resemble primordial and primitive characters. The male dancers sport fur on their backs, and the torso contractions are sexual and suggestive. Michael Trusnovec carried two women on his furry back, and I expected spirits to fly through the black sky. Jennifer Tipton's shadows were extremely effective, and George Tacet’s earth-toned costumes were perfectly conceived. This was a highly kinetic and spirited dance, and, as the moon changed positions in the sky, the mood seemed to change, as well. Gerald Busby's score is dissonant and driven. The Company was in excellent form; in fact, they seemed to cast a spell on the audience in this ethereal work.
Changes (2008): Songs Sung by The Mamas and The Papas, Music by John Phillips, John Lennon/Paul McCartney, and John Hartford, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. It was wonderful to re-visit Changes, with the rousing Mamas and The Papas songs. Yet, I find “Dancing Bear” to be eerily predatory and dark, not the light-hearted storybook tale it’s dressed up to be, with James Samson as a big, hugging bear and Francisco Graciano as a boy in footed pajamas. In contrast, “California Dreamin’” played in my head for days.
I am always amazed at the stamina of this Company, with dancers, like Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, and Amy Young, vigorously and passionately dancing in all three of tonight’s works. These dancers are relentless and near super-human. And, speaking of stamina, I noticed that Jennifer Tipton did the lighting for all three of tonight’s works, spanning 1975 to 2008.
“California Earthquake” was led by Ms. Mazzini, while the full cast danced “Straight Shooter”, “Mansions”, and “California Dreamin’”. With big Sixties wigs, torn blue jeans, and rebellious abandon, the Company looked like they were at a disco pot party, as druggy smoke streamed through the air, in between shaking and jiving and falling and jumping.
This performance was followed by a VIP Reception for Friends of Paul Taylor, of which I am a member. I was able to speak with Mr. Taylor, a tremendous pleasure. He’s accessible, warm, and interested in everyone, dancers and audiences alike. And, of course, he takes nightly bows, holding hands with his Company, then disappearing for the dancers to stand for additional curtain calls. Paul Taylor is not only a choreographer extraordinaire, but also a gentleman, the old-fashioned kind.
Courtesy of Maxine Hicks