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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Speaking in Tongues, Esplanade

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Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
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, Eran Bugge,
Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack,
Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Aileen Roehl,
Michael Novak, Heather McGinley, George Smallwood
In Performances at the David H. Koch Theater
At Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 21, 2013

(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)

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.

Speaking in Tongues (1988): Music by Matthew Patton, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

Speaking in Tongues is a lengthy work, with dark, deep psychological tones. The Company as A Man of the Cloth (Michael Trusnovec), and an ensemble of religious fanatics in a Pentecostal Church in the South, amidst a wall with fearful inscriptions and amidst a score with incomprehensible language, was riveting. With deliberate walking and stark body language, the dancers arrange chairs onstage, against Jennifer Tipton's eerie lighting and Santo Loquasto's stylized costumes and referential set. In the culminating scene, the chairs topple with the parishioners, who appear as prisoners of their own distorted obsessions. Those chairs are Santo Loquasto’s only props, along with his street clothing costumes.

This is a winding tale, intense and disturbing, and the contemporary score with unsettling language is wearing. However, it is illustrative of Taylor's social conscience and his ability to reveal wide swaths of the human condition, in the American heartland and in urban blight. Matthew Patton’s score has synthesizer chimes with occasional melodic elements. Mr. Trusnovec is slow-moving and moody, as he crosses his legs and twists his body to accentuate his slenderness. At times he appeared like a human pole, wound up to almost nothing. Robert Kleinendorst, as The Odd Man Out, is beat up, kicked, and rolled over like a sacrificial lamb. Michelle Fleet, as The Daughter Grown Up, kicks Mr. Kleinendorst from the rear. Other women, as Townsfolk, kick him in the torso. The Townsfolk walk about carrying their burden of the chairs, then lie down with the chairs on themselves. Other characters were James Samson as Himself, as he recollects, Laura Halzack as His Better Half, Amy Young as A Mother, Jamie Rae Walker as Her Unwanted Daughter, Sean Mahoney as Her Husband, and the Townsfolk.

Esplanade (1975): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Violin Concerto in E Major, Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (Largo, Allegro), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

There is no Taylor work I’d rather end the season with than Esplanade, and it was the logical antidote to the tense, taut earlier piece. Every program this season had one piece scored to Bach, with this work scored to Bach’s “Double Concerto”. Michelle Fleet was the central dancer, with larger than life propulsion, jumping over the Company as it lies on the stage. Dancers rush from the wings, leap into arms, fling themselves and fall, roll around, then do it all over again. This is a hormonal explosion of youthful athleticism, and George Smallwood joined the cast for a fresh face. Amy Young and Parisa Khobdeh were jaunty and jubilant, while Robert Kleinendorst and Francisco Graciano were male cannonballs. Eran Bugge, Jamie Rae Walker, and Laura Halzack filled out this cast, as three more ecstatic, battery-energized women.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

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