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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Spindrift, Sullivaniana, Beloved Renegade

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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

(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.

Spindrift (1993): Music by Arnold Schoenberg (String Quartet Concerto ‘after Handel’), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Donald York: Conductor, Krista Bennion Feeney, violin, Anca Nicolau, violin, David Cerutti, viola, Myron Lutzke, cello, Performed by Michael Trusnovec and the Company.

On first viewing of this 1993 work, scored to Schoenberg’s String Quartet Concerto (after Handel), the women in Santo Loquasto’s flesh-colored silky tutus and bare-chested men in flesh-colored tights, dance against Mr. Loquasto’s summery backdrop. The word “spindrift” refers to the spray from gale-force waves. The word evokes a transporting experience, and the 11 Taylor dancers seem enmeshed in reverie. The live string quartet, conducted by Donald York, was a bit squeaky, for the first time, but it occurred to me that a rusty oceanfront gate could actually be reinforced from the beach backdrop into sound. Michael Trusnovec is a central, spotlighted character, surrounded by the Company, one hand raised in the air in circular formation. There’s introspective emotionality, romantic calmness, and fluidity in the air. I noted the sound of waves washing on shore, lovely for this very early spring evening.

Sullivaniana (Premiere Season): Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan (Overtures of Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance, Patience), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Tong Chen: Conductor, Performed by the Company.

This recent Taylor work, a debut for most in the audience, had, as its score, three Overtures from Arthur Sullivan operettas, Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance, and Patience. The Guest Conductor was Tong Chen. The indefatigable Santo Loquasto once again rose to the occasion with fancy multicolored, plaid costumes for men, with black bowler hats, and showgirl, ruffle-filled dresses and heels for women. It’s a joyous show-in-a-show, set up like a stage, again thanks to Mr. Loquasto. The dances are reminiscent at times of Offenbach Overtures and at other times of Gossamer Gallants, with energized, ebullient effervescence, all ingénue, all upbeat. Also, like Esplanade, an ensemble of dancers huddle, with one acrobatic Company member leaping over and about the grouping. Operetta overtures are usually bouncy and bubbly, and the score, here, was no exception. Characters, in a palette of bright fabric, find each other in a leap or a mid-air embrace.

Beloved Renegade (2008): Music by Francis Poulenc (Gloria), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Donald York, Conductor, Devon Guthrie, soprano, St. George’s Choral Society, Performed by Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Laura Halzack, and the Company.

It was a pure treat to see Mr. Taylor’s Beloved Renegade once again this season. Laura Halzack was again the central focus of this work for 15. And, once again, Donald York conducted Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Devon Guthrie, soprano, and St. George’s Choral Society in Poulenc’s Gloria. The live vocal-orchestral accompaniment is so uplifting. Inspired by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, this exquisite dance is one must-see-again experience, season upon season. “I sing the body electric”, danced by Parisa Khobdeh and Robert Kleinendorst, was stunning, as was “…for love – sweet love – but praise!...”, danced by Ms. Halzack, Michael Trusnovec, Christina Lynch Markham, and the cast. This work is impressive for its melding of music and motion, drama and dynamic, intensity and inspiration.

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