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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, Dilly Dilly, Offenbach Overtures
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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, Dilly Dilly, Offenbach Overtures

- Onstage with the Dancers
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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 and Conductor, 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 / James F. Ingalls, Principal Lighting Designers
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, Michael Novak,
Heather McGinley, George Smallwood,
Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho

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

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 26, 2016

(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.

Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder (1959): Traditional Music Arranged by Robert De Cormier and Milton Okun, From the Collection of John and Alan Lomax, Choreography by Donald McKayle, Original Costumes by Domingo A. Rodriguez, Reconstructed for DCDC by Ayn Wood, Lighting by John Rensel, Reconstructed by Jennifer Tipton, Destan Owens with Michael McElroy and the Broadway Inspirational Voices, Gary Sieger, guitar, Performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

When the Paul Taylor Dance Company became part of a larger umbrella group, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, it was said that other choreographers would be invited and included in the annual seasons. Thus, tonight’s inclusion of Donald McKayle’s 1959 Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder, performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. Before researching Mr. McKayle’s history, I had noted that this piece was evocative of Martha Graham (the pelvic contractions) and Alvin Ailey (the muscular athleticism), and, sure enough, Mr. McKayle had worked with both iconic choreographers.

I found this work terrifying, aerobic, theatrical, stunning, and culturally relevant. Seven men perform a chain gang scene, with one woman, Alexis Britford, as the men’s sweetheart, wife, or mother, depending on their internalized thoughts. A happy dance with Ms. Britford has, as its backdrop, the chain gang. The piece is enveloped in traditional African American songs, performed by Destan Owens, Michael McElroy, and the Broadway Inspirational Voices, with Gary Sieger on guitar. Mr. Sledge and Mr., Green each perform a searing or joyful (in enacted thought) solo. There are even gun shots offstage, making yearning memories vanish.

Dilly Dilly (Premiere Season): Music: Songs Sung by Burl Ives, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Performed by the Company.

Mr. Taylor’s newest work, Dilly Dilly, danced to recorded songs, sung by Burl Ives, including “Lavender Blue” with its “dilly, dilly” refrains, was lovely. The Company, in black cowboy hats, sleeveless shirts and black pants for men, tucked blouses and black skirts for women, was rambunctious, casual, and eye-catching. The soft, rhythmic vocals, with rolling repetitions, added sensuality and spunk to the duos, trios, and ensemble songs. “Mr. Froggie Went A-Courtin”, danced by Michelle Fleet, Jamie Rae Walker, Heather McGinley, and Michael Novak, had Mr. Novak leaping like a frog, “Blue Tail Fly” had Eran Bugge and Robert Kleinendorst flapping their arms like flies, and “Frankie and Johnny” had Laura Halzack shooting, rolling, and stepping on Michael Trusnovec in a campy revenge skit.

Offenbach Overtures (1995): Music by Jacques Offenbach, Arranged and orchestrated by Bruce Saylor, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Donald York: Conductor, Performed by the Company.

This 1995 playful piece is tonight’s Taylor icon. Mr. Taylor does camp like nobody else. Offenbach Overtures satirically embodies the silliness of French pomp. Santo Loquasto is at his finest here, as he dresses the dancers in Napoleonic hats, red unitards, and faux mustaches. They perform a faux ballet, quasi can-can, and quasi duel. Dancers are off-balance, off pointe, and in short heels. The duel, between Michael Trusnovec and Sean Mahoney, handed off to Robert Kleinendorst and Francisco Graciano, is always hilarious. The full 14 dancer cast presented the “Flacons de Neige Gallop” with aplomb. But, what was different this time was the live orchestra, conducted by Donald York. To hear the full concert version of Offenbach’s music, arranged and orchestrated by Bruce Saylor, was divine. My favorite splashy, sassy tune this time was “Die Rheinnixen Overture”, danced by Laura Halzack, George Smallwood, and full cast. Kudos to Santo Loquasto for his costumes and wigs.

Kudos to Paul Taylor.

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