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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Airs, American Dreamer, Mercuric Tidings

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Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
C.F. Stone III, 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, 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
Christina Lynch Markham, Kristi Tornga

In Performances at the David H. Koch Theater
At Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 12, 2014

(See Other Taylor Company Reviews)

(See the 2014 Taylor Press Event Review)

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.

Airs (1978): Music by G. F. Handel (Excerpts from Concerti Grossi), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Eran Bugge, Laura Halzack, Aileen Roehl.

Airs, a late 1970’s Taylor work, was a perfect piece to introduce this annual March season. The Taylor Company looks more and more at home at Koch Theater, as they propel themselves through the air, in motion and gesture, here, evocative of the Graham genre. Martha Graham was an early mentor of a youthful Paul Taylor, and the ongoing connections are thrilling to behold. In fact, Graham’s Prelude to Action from Sketches from Chronicle (1936) may have specifically inspired some of this figurative choreography. With dramatic shifts in lighting, thanks to Mr. Taylor’s extra-long collaboration with Jennifer Tipton, the Company was in fine form. Laura Halzack danced a solo to Concerto in G Major, and Aileen Roehl and Robert Kleinendorst were featured in Overture to Ariodante…, while Eran Bugge and Michael Trusnovec were astounding in Concerto in F Major…. It becomes more apparent on each viewing that Handel’s score generates respect, reverence, and rhythm. This floatingly aerobic work moves dancers in spinning coyness and feverish frenzy, but with Taylor – driven poise, balance, and sensitivity.

American Dreamer (Premiere season): Music by Stephen Foster, Songs sung by Thomas Hampson, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

With old-fashioned, All-American songs by Stephen Foster, this new campy work, with women slapping husbands and men chasing a sleepwalker, is a lot for one viewing. Bonnets, tall hats, and unitards are iconic Santo Loquasto costumes. The piece was evocative of Balanchine’s 1960 La Sonnambula. Moreover, when a male dancer sees a woman, he kicks his legs up, like the cowboys in Balanchine’s Western Symphony. Mr. Taylor has traveled in the ballet community for decades and may draw on some favorite motifs.

At one point, women and men jump onto each other, fighting, with lyrics like “My wife is a most knowing woman” and square dance to “Oh, Susanna”. With Koch Theater’s excellent sound system, the Company really pulled this off with aplomb. And, Oh, those banjos! I look forward to seeing this new work again in future seasons. It’s upbeat and a great interlude between abstract works.

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 Laura Halzack, Michael Trusnovec, and the Company.

Moving back in time to Schubert, a 1982 Taylor masterpiece, Mercuric Tidings, led by Michael Trusnovec and Laura Halzack, is danced by a 13-member ensemble. This dance ensemble performs like a chamber orchestra, with each dancer like a solo instrument and each duo like an instrumental duet. 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. Blue-gold, striped unitards by Santo Loquasto are eye-catching. This remains a pure and ecstatic work, warm and evocative, athletic and airy. Schubert's symphonies generated swirling and soaring leaps and exquisite shapes that rivet the eye. Laura Halzack and the mesmerizing Michael Trusnovec were powerful and flawless. Each season, Mr. Taylor introduces new dancers, as one or two retire or shift careers. In this work, tonight, I was introduced to Christina Lynch Markham and Kristi Tornga, two delightful, ebullient new Company members.

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