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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Arabesque, Three Dubious Memories, Cloven Kingdom

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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 24, 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.

Arabesque (1999): Music by Claude Debussy, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

I did not recall this 1999 work, and it was all the more enjoyable with a stronger sound system, today. Debussy’s luscious music from his “String Quartet in G Minor” propels the cast of seven to dance Balanchine-styled barefoot ballet. The Santo Loquasto costumes are evocative of Holly Hines’ long, silk tutus, and the work is infused with innate humor and gestures. Flexed rather than flowing writs tell it all. I was especially drawn to Robert Kleinendorst and Laura Halzack, who made much of each moment. The dance evokes a Grecian motif, very classical and regal, with rapturous leaps en air, and I would like to see this ballet again next season.

Three Dubious Memories (2010): Music by Elyakim Taussig (Five Enigmas, movements 1, 3, 4, 5), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

This fully-developed story could be a ballet, with The Woman in Red (Amy Young), The Man in Green (Robert Kleinendorst), The Man in Blue (Sean Mahoney), Choirmaster (James Samson), and Choristers (7 dancers, dressed in grey). It’s a story about an apparent abduction, with three dances that tell differing interpretations, as partners switch and loyalties shift. A couple divides, two male antagonists become lovers, and so on. The Taussig score is a good choice, but the visual dramatizations, even using the backs of choristers (like a Greek chorus) as chairs, is captivating. Mr. Samson added weight to the unfolding tale, like a conductor of a chorus. Although this work has embedded wit, it’s also embedded with soap opera storytelling. Santo Loquasto deserves kudos for designing so many Taylor dances with consistent class.

Cloven Kingdom (1976):Music by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller (Combined by John Herbert McDowell), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Women’s Costumes by Scott Barrie, Headpieces by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

I could watch Cloven Kingdom once or twice each season, like a favorite ballet, as it’s so inviting, so engaging, so unique, and so percussive. That is, the drums get into your system, with repetitive echoing effects that drive men in full coat tuxedoes and tie to move to a primal beat, hopping with feet (hooves) and clawing with hands (hooves). They could be horses, cows, sheep, or goats, but, bottom line, they are hormonal men, stomping and prancing and leaping in unison. Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, Francisco Graciano, and Michael Novak could be strutting into a black tie gala or clomping into a stall. And, just when you’re at one with the beat, women with cubical mirrored hats arrive to catch the spotlights and throw them back.

Jennifer Tipton can’t be under-celebrated, as this lighting designer has masterfully designed most of Taylor’s oeuvres, with signature success. John Rawlings’ headpieces are museum-quality, and Scott Barrie’s women’s costumes are also over the top. The complex score, with the percussive overlay, is a combination of Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

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