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Paul Taylor Dance Company - To Make Crops Grow, Private Domain, Esplanade

- Onstage with the Dancers

The Paul Taylor Dance Foundation

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
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 27, 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.

To Make Crops Grow (2012): Music by Ferde Grofé (Grand Canyon Suite, movements 1, 2, 5), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Performed by the Company.

This 2012 work, To Make Crops Grow, which I saw tonight for the first time, is a take on The Rite of Spring, but, here, one member of the community is chosen to become the fertilizer, that is The Chosen One, so to speak. With the opposite volume and propulsion of the Graham Rite, or that of Nijinsky for Ballets Russes, Taylor’s piece is set to music of Ferde Grofé. Robert Kleinendorst at first seems to be offering an award, as townspeople sit in a semicircle, choosing a paper from a box, one by one. Yet, when there’s nothing to have been won, and they breathe a sigh of relief, the point’s made very fast. Rather than one winner, there will be one loser. Soon Mr. Kleinendorst is a Shaman, not the listed “Ritual Conductor”. “His Assistant” is George Smallwood, so he’s safe. “Newlyweds”, Eran Bugge and Sean Mahoney, are safe. A “Needy Couple”, Heather McGinley and James Samson, are safe. “Their Children”, Jamie Rae Walker and Francisco Graciano, are safe. An “Elderly Husband”, Michael Apuzzo, is safe. As fewer people are left, tension and tone become searing. The Elderly Husband’s “Daughter”, Aileen Roehl, is safe. One person remains, the Elderly Husband’s “Young Wife”, Christina Lynch Markham, and she chooses the remaining paper, with a black emblem printed on its surface. The others had been gold.

As The Grand Canyon Suite plays on, thunder and lightning ensue, the lucky crowd encircles Ms. Markham and gesture their rejection. She, unlike the other female characters, had been elegant and fancy, but snobby in persona. They lift giant stones that had suddenly taken on import and throw them upon her. Maybe the others saw this “trophy wife” as a threat to the town’s stability, or Mr. Taylor had another message. The calmness of the introduction shifted tumultuously to death and destruction. Much could be read into this. I have no great need to revisit this work.

Private Domain (1969): Music by Iannis Xenakis (Atrees), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

This was also a new work for me, or maybe I saw it decades ago. It’s not my favorite, but for one viewing it was intriguing. Alex Katz’ brief costumes are bathing suits, symbolically lingerie. Katz’ sets, grey panels, are the “private domains” with cut-out boxes to partially view dancers as they peer at us, at each other, or dash by. The theme is casual sexual connection, with no modesty, emotion, or planning. Dancers are in full view, then dash behind a panel, where parts of their bodies are in view, and so on. Tone is casual-tense, thanks to the Iannis Xenakis score. After 139 ballets over 60 years, I fully understand Paul Taylor bringing old works out from the shelves. But, Private Domain, the ballet, not Mr. Taylor’s 1987 autobiography, doesn’t captivate my imagination as do most of his other choreographies.

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.

Just as I was thrilled that Cloven Kingdom opened my Taylor season, I was equally thrilled that Esplanade closed it. Michelle Fleet has become the new Lisa Viola in this work, with buoyant leaps over huddled bodies and bounding leaps into waiting arms. Bach’s score of two Concerti lends a mood of classicism, and the dances take that classicism to robust athleticism. I noticed that James Samson appeared in all three works tonight, a feat in itself. The motion of this ballet includes sudden shifts in direction, shifts in balance, shifts in level (air or stage), and shifts in groupings, ensemble, solo, duo, and even double-entendres. There are no words to fully describe the sparkling buoyancy of Mr. Taylor’s Esplanade.

Kudos to all, and especially kudos to Paul Taylor. At the curtain, as he does after every performance, Mr. Taylor was on stage, clapping for his Company, after taking his own humble bow. For news on upcoming Paul Taylor Dance Company seasons - See the 2014 Taylor Press Event Review.

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