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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Rite of Spring, Diggity, Promethean Fire
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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Rite of Spring, Diggity, Promethean Fire

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Paul Taylor Dance Foundation

Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance
551 Grand Street
New York, NY, 10002

Phone: 212.431.5562
Fax: 212.966.5673

(Taylor American Modern Dance Website)

Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Music Director, Donald York
Featuring the Paul Taylor Dance Company

Music Performed Live by:
Orchestra of St. Luke’s

Paul Taylor, President, Board of Directors
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

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 26, 2015

(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, now under the umbrella of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe.

Rite of Spring (2003): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Four-Hand Piano Version recorded by Fazil Say, Concept, Choreography, Costumes, Set, and Makeup Design by Shen Wei, Original Lighting Design by David Ferri, Performed by Guest Company, Shen Wei Dance Arts. Once again, briefly, but expanded on March 20, this horrendous work was twice poorly reviewed on these pages, in 2012, and again last week. And, once again, the experience was suffocating and endless. The piped-up, four-hand piano score of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, with baseless, boring choreography, like sleepwalking, was pure torture.

Diggity (1978): Music by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. Tonight, Donald York conducted his own scored composition for Taylor’s 1978 Diggity. The choreography and music were lively, glowing, and ebullient, and Alex Katz’ farcical dog cutouts, with daisies (and cabbages) growing from the stage, created cute farce. There’s some springtime romance, among the cast of eight, and the jazzy, contemporary score makes the audience feel like joining the breezy fun. Michelle Fleet steps over three men’s hunched backs, evocative of Esplanade, Heather McGinley, in pink, creates gorgeous arm motifs, men swivel women rapidly, and so on. I would certainly like to see this again, as it was my first time.

Promethean Fire (2002): Music by J. S. Bach (Toccata & Fugue in D minor, Prelude in E flat minor, and Chorale Prelude BWV 680), Orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

Taylor’s 2002 Promethean Fire, created in the aftermath of 9/11, has since been among my top favorite, Taylor works. The depth and talent of this Company glows, internally and across the stage, as they pile on one another, dance in formations of angst, then peacefulness, and seem to transcend the moment. I noted that this work is too short. I did not want it to end. Hearing the Bach Toccata & Fugue, Prelude, and Chorale performed live was a remarkable experience. Santo Loquasto’s velvety, sleeveless, dark, gold-striped unitards add import and weight to the work. Mr. Taylor was obviously inspired to respond, choreographically, to a tragedy of dire proportion, and this is one of his finest accomplishments. The score is dynamic and dramatic, the energy is extraordinary, and the Company dances as if one. This piece should appear annually as a reminder of the collaborative strength in coming together in New York and the nation.

Kudos to Paul Taylor, who always takes a bow with his Company, clapping for them.

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