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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Mercuric Tidings, House of Joy, Big Bertha, Company B

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Paul Taylor Dance Company
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New York, NY, 10002

Phone: 212.431.5562
Fax: 212.966.5673

(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 18, 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 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.

Set to Schubert’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, Mr. Taylor’s Mercuric Tidings is danced by a 13-member ensemble, that performs like a chamber orchestra, with each dancer like a solo instrument and each duo like an instrumental harmony of two. There’s a balletic quality to this piece, with sultry strings driving surreal imagery, of rounded en air waves from shoulder to fingers, hips to toes. Each dancer achieves moments of import. This remains a pure and ecstatic work, all in red shadings against a red backdrop, warm and evocative, athletic and airy. Schubert's symphonies generated swirling and soaring leaps and exquisite figures that rivet the eye. Amy Young and the indefatigable Michael Trusnovec were powerful and flawless in their leads.

House of Joy (World Premiere): Music Composed for the Dance by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

This new work, called House of Joy, referring to women in “the oldest profession” and their clients, seemed severely unfinished. Its concept was clever, its set and costumes, by Santo Loquasto, imaginative and theatrical, and the dancers’ affect suitably shady. But, the story itself was vague, dim, and abbreviated. The cast of twelve includes three “procurers”, four “clients”, and five “shady ladies”. One of the clients is Parisa Khobdeh in drag, and one of the shady ladies is Jeffrey Smith in drag. It was during this introductory-structured dance that I longed for City Center’s more intimate access to the stage performance, as here, at Koch Theater, the distant action seemed more filmatic than live.

Donald York’s score was appropriately tense and absorbing, and the burlesquean, comic-book slaps, guns, thugs, and shrugs added entertainment to each phrase. But those phrases never developed into a full storyline, so the ending was diffuse. Mr. Taylor’s Black Tuesday, with characters of the street more fully defined and their plight more scripted, would have been a good template for House of Joy. And, each has a poignant, pregnant character of the street, with that of Black Tuesday seizing the stage with her own dance song. House of Joy needs more depth and drama.

Big Bertha (1970): Music from the St. Louis Melody Museum collection of band machines, Special effects by John Herbert McDowell, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Sutherland, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Amy Young as Big Bertha, Michael Trusnovec as Mr. B, Michelle Fleet as Mrs. B, Eran Bugge as Miss B.

This renowned 1970 work turns from an upbeat carnival motif to a dark, evil, incestuous rape, as Mr. B. (Michael Trusnovec) is bewitched by Big Bertha (Amy Young), a carnival figure. Years ago, this work seemed more artistic. These days, it seems macabre, squeamish, and disturbing. As Mr. Trusnovec, the father, dances in his underwear, and Eran Bugge, the daughter, dances in torn dress, women in my row opened their mouths in horror. Michelle Fleet is cast as the slapped wife, who does not stop the crime. The family is left tattered and emotionally lifeless at the finale. I will not see this work again. It’s no longer a source of entertainment.

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.

After seeing Company B danced by Ballet Theatre on numerous occasions, with lyrical estheticism, it was good to see its original style unfold with this barefoot modern dance company. Today it seemed visceral again, forceful, more foreboding, war-torn. Francisco Graciano’s “Tico-Tico” was captivating and dramatic, indicative of the World War II backdrop of falling soldiers in shaded relief. The rapturous songs, sung by the un-paralleled Andrews Sisters, had the audience swaying. In “There Will Never Be Another You”, Amy Young and Sean Mahoney gave the romantic choreography added dimension. In my favorite, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?”, Parisa Khobdeh was the essence of yearning. Laura Halzack and Jeffrey Smith bounced with athleticism in “Pennsylvania Polka”, and Robert Kleinendorst magnetized the stage in “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

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