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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Snow White, Profiles, Three Dubious Memories, Offenbach Overtures
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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Snow White, Profiles, Three Dubious Memories, Offenbach Overtures

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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
April 2, 2016 Matinee

(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.

Snow White (1983): Music specially composed by Donald York, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Cynthia O'Neal, Set by David Gropman, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Donald York: Conductor, Performed by Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Francisco Graciano, Michael Apuzzo, Heather McGinley, George Smallwood..

On second viewing this season, this satiric, slapstick 1983 Taylor work was even more entertaining, and yet with the same cast. When The Queen is killed, a rag doll form of Sean Mahoney’s drag character is used as a jump rope and also stomped on. As The Prince, Mr. Mahoney, now more seasoned in the role, was stunningly arrogant and self-adoring, with his tall hand-mirror. Parisa Khobdeh, as Snow White, smiles with extra ingénue ebullience, except, of course, when she eats A Bad Apple (Heather McGinley), all in red. Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Francisco Graciano, Michael Apuzzo, and George Smallwood, as Some Dwarfs, were extra energized in tumbling, somersaulting, and pretending to sleep, legs up. Jennifer Tipton’s dark, black backdrop highlights the bright Cynthia O’Neal costumes, with the Dwarfs in pale browns. Donald York conducted his own original composition. David Gropman’s stage-within-a-stage set was perfectly conceived to guide the eye.

Profiles (1979): Music specially composed by Jan Radzynski, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Mark Litvin, Conrad Harris, violin, Mayuki Fukuhara, violin, Louise Schulman, viola, Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, cello, Performed by Michael Trusnovec, Laura Halzack, Eran Bugge, Michael Novak.

Also, on second viewing this season, the 1979, Taylor Profiles was even more incandescent and riveting. The chiaroscuro lighting, by Mark Litvin, with Gene Moore’s beige unitards and black polka-dots, and the cast either leaning on each other’s back, or sitting and standing, each on another level and in different directions, is all entrancing. There’s slow, muscular momentum in Mr. Taylor’s choreography, with the live string quartet performing the gripping score. The spotlights magnify the drama.

Three Dubious Memories (2010): Music by Peter Elyakim Taussig (Five Enigmas, movements 1, 3, 4, 5), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

For an in-depth exploration of Taylor’s 2010 Three Dubious Memories, read about the making of this ballet here. In tonight’s revival, Eran Bugge was The Woman in Red, who becomes involved in three scenarios, one of which may be an actual memory and the other two fantasies, or the other way around. First, she dances in a calm love relationship with The Man in Green, Robert Kleinendorst, then she dances in a sexually charged relationship with The Man in Blue, Sean Mahoney, and then both men dance together in a dual male relationship. After each dance, one character is pushed away, while two remain. The first three scenes are to be “as remembered by”, in succession, with the fourth scene, “Threnody”, involving a brief remaking of each scene, with a Choirmaster (James Samson) and Choristers (a cast of seven) in grey. The recorded Taussig score was adapted during the original dance design process. The mime is intrinsic to this modern dance, and it looks marvelous on the larger Koch stage. Mr. Samson does handstands and backward somersaults amidst the theatrics. A high point, when Ms. Bugge attacks both former lovers, who no longer want her included, exudes dry humor and satiric gravitas.

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.

As a finale to a four-work matinee, I enjoyed, once again, this bright, sizzling, campy ballet, with short ballroom shoes and Napoleonic hats. The shadowed silhouettes, capturing huge red tutus and huge black hats, followed and preceded by bold, colorful behavior, are all worth the visit to this dance, but then you’ll get Offenbach's Can-Can music, too. The fourteen dancers mimic a ballet nightmare, with off-balance, intentionally awkward choreography and tipsy ballerinas not en pointe. Michelle Fleet and Parisa Khobdeh were both on Energizer batteries, as they threw themselves into brilliant pantomime. There’s a high-kicking walk to a duel, an off-center, silly wig, a waltz bordering on drag, and a propulsive, explosive gallop. Don’t miss this ballet on a future performance.

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