Paul Taylor Dance Company
NY, NY 10012
Phone: 212 431 5562
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Norton Belknap, President, Board of Directors
Bettie De Jong, Rehearsal Director
Wallace Chappell, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Jennifer Lerner
Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Michael Trusnovec,
Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein,
Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson,
Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith,
Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack
In Performances at City Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 14, 2008
(See Other Taylor 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 over 40 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.
…Byzantium (1984): Music by Edgard Varèse (Intégrales, Density 2.15, Octandre), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Set by David Gropman, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. I did not remember seeing this 1984 work, replete with angst, affect, and motion generated from the hip and pelvis, evocative of Paul Taylor’s roots in the Graham technique. This was Lisa Viola’s Farewell Weekend in New York, and she danced in the peak of form, muscular, elevated, and focused, as did the entire Company here. Varèse’s score is atonal and dark, and the costumes were gold on silk. The three scenes are “Passing”, “Or Past”, and “Or to Come”, and the choreography included slapping thighs and crawling on one leg. Of special note were performances (in addition to Ms. Viola) by Francisco Graciano, Richard Chen See, Julie Tice, and Orion Duckstein, but, as always, the Company was propelled with energy and charisma, at the end of a long run at City Center.
De Sueños (of dreams) (2007): Music by Agustín Lara, Juan García Esquivel, Osvaldo Golijov, B. García de Jesús, J. Elizondo, Ariel Guzik, Chalino Sánchez, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. This new ballet, in two parts (this being Part I) seems to be a cross between a haunting dream and the Mexican Holiday, “Day of the Dead”. Youthful innocence is juxtaposed with shock and horror, as one moment we see a girl dancing with a flower basket, and another moment we see a dancer licking a skull. That skull is searingly carried by Richard Chen See in a black bowler hat, sunglasses, funereal jacket, and white gloves, back and forth, like a dream-image that re-appears without cue.
Taylor quotes from Jung, “…I have no idea what this dream means”. Michael Trusnovec appears with stag antlers and later is shot. There’s an iconic machete that’s swung effortlessly about a circle of seemingly friendly characters, but it occasionally takes on dark connotations. Laura Halzack, in a striking gold costume with a round-jeweled crown, is ever-present, and the music varies from South American classical to Mexican folk chants. This score is derived from seven Latin American composers, and it enhances Santo Loquasto’s exotic costumes and sets, which are among his finest in the Taylor repertoire. There is gay humor, mythical imagery, and romantic innuendo. All in all, De Sueños (of dreams) is a dream with lasting memories. Paul Taylor proves each season that his creativity and inspiration are limitless.
Arden Court (1981): Music by William Boyce (Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. In contrast to the previous two works, Arden Court is uplifting pure dance, melodically driven (William Boyce), with the dancers in fanciful, polka-dotted leotards. It’s always in the third work of the evening that I am amazed at the sheer physical endurance of the Company, with dancers performing in two or all three works, never tiring, never missing a beat. The athleticism is constant and charismatic, and, in Arden Court, charged and catapulting.
Courtesy of Maxine Hicks