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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Equinox, Diversion of Angels, Promethean Fire
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Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance: Equinox, Diversion of Angels, Promethean Fire

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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 3, 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.

Equinox (1983): Music by Johannes Brahms, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Ellen dePasquale, violin, Mitsuru Tsubota, violin, Shmuel Katz, viola, Luke Fleming, viola, Daire FitzGerald, cello, Performed by Laura Halzack, Robert Kleinendorst, Parisa Khobdeh, Michael Apuzzo, Michelle Fleet, Sean Mahoney, Eran Bugge, James Samson.

This rare 1983 Taylor work, which I don’t recall seeing, is danced in William Ivey Long’s stark white costumes, perhaps evoking the bright equatorial sunshine, thus “equinox”, or maybe not. The choreography is evocative of Jerome Robbins, with dancers using gesture to mime pleasure from friendship, romance from attraction. There are flying lifts, rhythmic stretching, dancing in duos and trios, ensemble lines, dashes across the stage, yearning solos, and serene interludes. The live Brahms string quintet was heart-rending in its simplicity and tonal fusion.

Diversion of Angels (1948): Music by Norman Dello Joio, Choreography by Martha Graham, Reconstructed by Blakely White-McGuire and Tadej Brdnik, Costumes by Martha Graham, Music by Norman Dello Joio, Original Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Reconstructed by Jennifer Tipton, Rehearsal Director: Linda Hodes, Donald York: Conductor, Performed by Laura Halzack and Michael Trusnovec as The Couple in White, Parisa Khobdeh and Sean Mahoney as The Couple in Red, Eran Bugge and Michael Novak as The Couple in Yellow, Michelle Fleet, Jamie Rae Walker, Heather McGinley, Christina Lynch Markham as Four Women, and George Smallwood as Fourth Man.

Once again, the Taylor Dance Company embraced an outside choreographer, as part of the umbrella organization, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance. And, what better choreographer to choose than Martha Graham, in whose Company a young Paul Taylor learned his craft in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Graham’s 1948 Diversion of Angels, danced to Norman Dello Joio’s score, tonight conducted by Donald York, presents three couples, The Couple in White, Laura Halzack and Michael Trusnovec (calm maturity), The Couple in Red, Parisa Khobdeh and Sean Mahoney (intense eroticism), and The Couple in Yellow, Eran Bugge and Michael Novak (ingénue energy). There’s a kaleidoscope of color in the women’s dresses, with the male partners in beige, underscoring the swirling, choreographic shapes. A Chorus of Five, four women and one man (George Smallwood) is Graham’s quasi-Greek Chorus. Each Couple enacts the affect and mood of the color of the female dancer’s dress.

However, dancers in the Graham Company have been trained for many years in the specialized techniques of release-contraction, pelvic thrusts that propel the dancer forward at an angle, intense percussive dynamics, and theatrical facial gestures. The Taylor dancers, although lucky to have current and former Graham stars, Blakely White-McGuire and Tadej Brdnik, reconstructing this work for the Company, need further practice in developing the iconic style and detail of the Graham genre. For example, in the profiled leaps, the Taylor dancers looked at the audience, as they ordinarily would, but, as I recall, the Graham profiles are exactly that, a sideways, dramatic vision. In this Company, George Smallwood and Eran Bugge seemed to have morphed into Graham-esque, in the moment. Yet, kudos to all of these dancers for making such a valiant effort and for their seamless fluidity.

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, Conductor: Donald York, Performed by Michael Trusnovec, Parisa Khobdeh, and the Company.

Pure joy – the final work of the season, to be Mr. Taylor’s iconic Promethean Fire, created as an homage to the victims of September 11, 2001. And, at today’s matinee, Donald York conducted Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Bach’s three magnificent works (listed above) with their showcased organ solos and grand tonal spirituality. Michael Trusnovec and Parisa Khobdeh were featured today in stark, stunning intensity. The Company’s athleticism and power are expanded with Santo Loquasto’s black, velvet unitards, laced with glittering gold threads. The dancers exude a glistening, warm glow, thanks to Jennifer Tipton’s lighting design. The resonant chords of the organ, and the hypnotic and mesmerizing intertwining of bodies onstage and mid-air, with sudden, partnered, gravity-defying leaps and grasping embraces are always momentous. When the Company falls into one mountain of lifeless bodies, the audience is breathless.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company has never looked better and never been stronger. Mr. Taylor, for over half a century, has provided the American dance community with some of the most splendid choreographic designs and inventions ever seen or experienced in any dance genre. Paul Taylor is a legend and a treasure. I look forward, already, to next season. Kudos to Paul Taylor, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Teacher, and Master Dancer.

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