Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
and President, Board of Directors
Robert E. Aberlin, Chairman, 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, 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, Heather McGinley, Elizabeth Bragg
In Performances at the David H. Koch Theater
At Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 17, 2012 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.
Roses (1985): Music by Richard Wagner, Siegfried Idyll, and Heinrich Baermann, Adagio for Clarinet and Strings, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
Seeing the Taylor Company on this massive stage at Koch Theater, without the benefit of a live orchestra from the massive pit that remained like a dark moat between audience and performers, was unsettling at first. To make matters worse, the technical sound system for the iconic, recorded music created a sense of distance, with barely audible rhythms. I loved seeing this Company for decades in the more intimate spaces of New York City Center. However, once I focused on the reliably mesmerizing dancers, as Mr. Taylor’s works unfolded, the works were mostly compelling. It was about the entertaining choreography, not the setting, although the sound issues were unresolved. The Koch Theater lighting was crisp and intense, with colors shifting seamlessly, but there was more backdrop visible, than usual, as the stage is sized for large ballet and opera companies, plus ensembles and scenery.
Mr. Taylor’s 1985 Roses played out elegantly, yet with dry effects, as the music could not envelop the stage. The Wagner score was refined and regal, and the dance included some German expressiveness, but, at times the performance was almost like a television viewing, as the motion was shrunk in the massive space. The six couples were led by Michael Trusnovec and Eran Bugge with commanding expansiveness. Among the other five duos, Parisa Khobdeh and Francisco Graciano caught my eye, as well as Michelle Fleet and Robert Kleinendorst. It was good to see the Company in such fine form, and the William Ivey Long black or white gowns for the women and grey or white cropped wear for the men enhanced the vision.
Gossamer Gallants (NYC Premiere): Music by Bedřich Smetana (Dances from “The Bartered Bride”), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
A wonderful surprise, on this first matinee viewing of a new work was Gossamer Gallants in its NY Premiere. An ensemble of eleven, with men dressed as blue-black flies and women as bright green ones, flutters about in front of Santo Loquasto’s dizzying backdrop of multiple views of a castle. The backdrop design is created to imagine what a fly would see as it spills and whirls through the air, like viewing the castle in a kaleidoscope. First men chase about in a mating warm-up motif, then women appear, with power and wit, then the women go about conquering the needy men, and so on, all with bright humor. When the female flies flex muscle, you just want to root for them, in this campy vaudevillian frolic.
Promethean Fire (2002): Music by J. S. Bach (Toccata & Fugue in D minor, Prelude in E flat minor, and Chorale Prelude BWV 680), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
Promethean Fire, a dynamic, monumental work, was the central reason for choosing today’s matinee performance. I have always been dazzled with the athleticism and power of the warmly lit bodies in black, velvet unitards, laced with glittering gold threads. I am additionally dazzled with the choreographic creativity of a work that commemorates the cataclysmic events of September 11, 2001. I feel the energy of the Toccata & Fugue, Prelude, and Chorale, the resonant chords of the organ, and the hypnotic and mesmerizing intertwining of bodies onstage and mid-air. Each member of the Company is shown in spotlight at one moment or another, before figures huddle and fall. Parisa Khobdeh’s sudden leap onto Michael Trusnovec's waiting chest and arms still caught me by surprise. This was a breathless moment for the audience, as well.
Kudos to Paul Taylor.