Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
And Chairman Board of Directors
Robert E. Aberlin, President, Board of Directors
Bettie de Jong, Rehearsal Director
John Tomlinson, Executive Director
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set & Costume Designer
Lisa Labrado, Director of Public Relations
Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Amy Young,
Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet,
Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith,
Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo
Aileen Roehl, Michael Novak
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 6, 2011 Matinee
(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.
Orbs (1966): Music by Ludwig van Beethoven (Late String Quartets), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
II Venusian Spring
III Martian Summer
IV Terrestrial Autumn
V Plutonian Winter
If I had seen this work previously, it had left no memory. Orbs is a two-act modern ballet with an intermission in the midst. It’s not only celestial, it’s cerebral. James Samson, as the Sun, is the central focus, sometimes wearing a double face mask, in the rear, that looks like himself. He’s in silver unitards, while the Planets (Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Michelle Fleet, and Sean Mahoney) wear unitards with gold. The Moons (Eran Bugge, Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, Aileen Roehl) scamper about with wide, low lunges in flesh unitards, embellished with green-orange-yellow chiffon pleats. “Venusian Spring” includes lessons of love and embodiments of lust, while “Martian Summer” includes Mr. Samson’s imposing stage presence, as he navigates his universe. He’s a minister at a wedding in “Terrestrial Autumn” and, it seemed, frenzied and fatigued by “Plutonian Winter”.
There’s sensuality, wit, and the challenge to the audience to stay with this, as I overheard several at the first intermission in complete confusion. In fact, when that intermission concluded, I heard comments to the effect, “This can’t be Company B”. Yet, the overall effect was to remember that Mr. Taylor has been creating dances for over a half century, and his current style is quite different from the earlier, Martha Graham-influenced works. In fact, as a Graham Soloist, he was simultaneously choreographing his own new pieces, so contraction-releases, pelvic thrusts, low runs, and mythological themes would naturally spring into his personal creations. Orbs, created in 1966, was one of those earlier works. The “Late String Quartets” by Beethoven added to the sophistication of this piece, and Alex Katz’ mesmerizing costumes added to the visual dynamic. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting shifted seamlessly throughout the seasons.
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.
My guest today is a huge fan of Andrews Sisters songs, and there was no shortage here. No matter how many times I see this work, or on how many stages (ABT performs Taylor’s Company B in repertory), it’s always a delight. In today’s cast, Eran Bugge and Jeffrey Smith danced the “Pennsylvania Polka” with splashy swirls and rapid slides, across the stage like lightning. Francisco Graciano danced “Tico-Tico” like nobody else does, with natural gesture, winning personality, and bravura styling. Robert Kleinendorst danced “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)” with poignancy and charm. Annmaria Mazzini’s “Rum and Coca-Cola” had plenty of hip and plenty of men. My favorite, “There Will Never Be Another You”, featured Amy Young and Michael Apuzzo, in a romantic, rapturous Astaire-Rogers styled dance. In the background, WWII soldiers are silhouetted with fingers as guns, in slow marches and slow falls. Kudos to Paul Taylor for another great Season.