The Paul Taylor Dance Foundation
Paul Taylor Dance Company
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002
(Taylor Dance Company Website)
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 13, 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 www.paultaylor.org for the latest tour dates.
Annual Gala Performance
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.
Galas have a special energy of their own, and for this annual Taylor Gala, Mr. Taylor’s 1976 Cloven Kingdom appropriately opened the evening. The tuxedoed men, the women with shiny headgear that reflects the spotlights, the men who dance like hoofed animals, strutting their machismo, the synchronized repetitive steps, evocative of Swan Lake’s “Four Cygnettes'” captivating, synchronized interlude, make this a magnetic masterpiece. Tonight’s ensemble was in rare form, moving with confidence and charisma. The forward-back jumps at different heights, with split-timing to the steady percussive beat of the combined scores, were ever so astounding. Men slid down each other’s backs, women did cartwheels, and so on, as a contrast of formality and frolic, like the contrasting musical genres. George Smallwood, Michael Trusnovec, Michael Novak, and Michelle Fleet were just a few among many who caught my eye.
Sunset (1983): Music by Edward Elgar (Serenade for Strings and Elegy for Strings), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
Six soldiers in red berets and khaki woo four females in pristine white, to Elgar strings and taped loon vocals. Women carry men, and men disappear; this is a study of war, an everlasting theme, which Mr. Taylor revisits in many of his works. Unfortunately, the sound system seemed too soft and off-center tonight for the Elgar recording, but the loons were fine. Sunset would be extraordinary with live music. An ingénue is gallantly lifted, before the men walk slowly offstage, cannon fodder, perhaps, Mr. Taylor's tribute to the waste of war. Alex Katz' abstract sets (He also designed the costumes.) include a bit of foliage and a bit of fence to suggest the ambiance of outdoors. The soundtrack of loons, as the dancers move in slow motion, is evocative of the sunset of young life; again, the ravages of war. Elgar's works for strings are also effective, with their intense sensuality and soaring Serenade. A duo for Michael Trusnovec and Robert Kleinendorst is virtuosic.
Excerpt from Airs (1978): Music by G. F. Handel, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild from New York City Ballet.
Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, both Principals in New York City Ballet, are no strangers to this stage, that they call home. Tonight they were guest artists, and their onstage-offstage chemistry was evident (they are engaged to be married soon). Their interpretation of an excerpt from Mr. Taylor’s Airs, which I saw in its entirety just last night, was new, regal, serene, more formal, less muscular. Ms. Peck slowly extends her arms with reverent, balletic nuance, toward Mr. Fairchild. They hold their bodies high, in a sense of grandeur. It was lovely to have them join this modern dance Gala, as new interpretations of familiar works are always intriguing.
Piazzolla Caldera (1997): Music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky (Gidon Kremer’s Recording of Hommage à Piazzolla), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.
If I were stranded on an island with a boom box and one CD, it would be Gidon Kremer's Hommage à Piazzolla, the album score for this sizzling Taylor work. Four tango compositions, plus smoke, bar stools, ballroom shoes, ruffled dresses, black backdrops, and violent passion, combine to excite and energize the dancers and audience to a frenzy of electric expectations and sensual surrealism.
White silky lights hang low, and the tango embellishments (kicks under thighs, legs through and around partners, lifts upside down, men dancing with men, piercing eyes, bodies almost close, and more) are intrinsic to this choreography. This work is not supposed to be true, pure tango, and the dance partners remain slightly separated (in tango, bodies must feel each other to move on physical cue, not individual patterns). Piazzolla Caldera is one of Taylor's most exciting works, and its placement at the end of today's program was fitting, as it's a showstopper. Santo Loquasto’s costumes and Jennifer Tipton’s lighting were rare and exciting; dresses, suspenders, loose pants, gartered stockings, and heeled shoes were all imagery of old bordellos. The suspended light bulbs with cloth décor against the thick darkness of the stage were also indigenous to Buenos Aires. The intense sexual dynamic adds to the art and the culture of this brothel-like scene. Eran Bugge, Laura Halzack, and Robert Kleinendorst danced together to Concierto Para Quinteto with steamy, wild abandon. Enormous accolades followed the final, Escualo, danced by the full cast.