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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
New York City Center
Paul Taylor Dance Company
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Paul Taylor Dance Company - Dante Variations, Sunset, Esplanade

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 18, 2007
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Featured Dance Company:

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Paul Taylor Dance Company (office)
552 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
212 431 5562

About the Author:

Paul Taylor Dance Company
552 Broadway
NY, NY 10012
Phone: 212 431 5562
(Taylor Dance Company Website)

Paul Taylor, Artistic Director
Norton Belknap, President, Board of Directors
Bettie De Jong, Rehearsal Director
Wallace Chappell, Executive Director
John Tomlinson, General Manager
Jennifer Tipton, Principal Lighting Designer
Santo Loquasto, Principal Set and Costume Designer
Press, Jennifer Lerner

Dancers: Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein,
Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzak

In Performances at City Center
(See Other Taylor Reviews)

Years ago, Paul Taylor danced with my Modern Dance Master Class at Skidmore College. For many years, I have been part of Mr. Taylor's devoted audience and have seen him as an inspiring dancer and as a creative choreographer. Mr. Taylor has been one of my long-time heroes of the Arts. He always sits in the audience, watching his Company perform. And, he always stands onstage, as did his mentor, Martha Graham, to accept accolades, after the final curtain. Mr. Taylor obviously delights in the success of his Company and loyal advisors, and, in fact, Ms. Bettie De Jong, whom I had seen as one of Mr. Taylor's original soloists and as his dance partner, has been with the Taylor Company for over 40 years and is currently his Rehearsal Director.

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 is a sought after troupe and tours extensively around the globe. Visit www.paultaylor.org for the latest tour dates.

Dante Variations (New York Premiere): (See March 12, 2005 Review). (Influenced by Dante Alighieri's Inferno, Canto III), Music by Gyorgy Ligeti (Musica ricercata adapted for barrel organ), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. In eleven segments to an electrically charged "barrel organ" arrangement of Ligeti's Musica ricercata, an ensemble of ten in Santo Loquasto's devilishly designed black/white/brown skin-tight costumes crouch, leap, and claw at each other in wild abandon. The writhing imagery is hellish and evocative of Mr. Taylor's program quote from Dante, himself, "…the nearly soulless whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise".

The females wear silky bras and tights, with the males bare-chested, and the frenetic vision is mesmerizing. Jennifer Tipton's lighting adds drama to this "inferno", from orange brilliance to dim haziness. Lisa Viola, Michael Trusnovec, and Annmaria Mazzini were most noteworthy in momentum and muscularity. But, the entire ensemble, including Parisa Khobdeh, Robert Kleinendorst, and Julie Tice drove this work to its full potential, this last performance of Spring 2007 Season.

Sunset (1983): (See March 11, 2004 Review). Music by Edward Elgar (Serenade for Strings and Elegy for Strings), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Alex Katz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. This ever thought-provoking work lived up to its reputation again, with six soldiers in khakis and berets, belts and shoes, wooing four females in pristine white. Lisa Viola, once again, tirelessly plays the ingénue, in the midst of soldiers gallantly lifting her, and then walking slowly offstage, cannon fodder, perhaps, Mr. Taylor's tribute to the waste of war.

Alex Katz' abstract sets (He also designed the costumes.) include a bit of foliage and a bit of fence to suggest the ambiance of outdoors. Another such suggestion is equally as obvious – the soundtrack of loons, a cappella, as the dancers move in slow motion, the sunset of young life, the ravages of war. Elgar's works for strings are also effective, with their intense sensuality and soaring Serenade. A duo for Michael Trusnovec and Robert Kleinendorst is virtuosic.

Esplanade (1975): (See March 4, 2007 Review). Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Violin Concerto in E Major, Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (Largo, Allegro), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by John Rawlings, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. A perfect ending to the Season at today's Sunday matinee was Esplanade, and it's astounding that these same dancers mustered such energy for a finale flourish. Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Michelle Fleet, Eran Bugge, and Francisco Graciano were all onstage in the warm glow of Ms. Tipton's orange lighting.

Women hurled themselves into the men's open arms, Ms. Viola leaped over the ensemble, that rested prostate onstage, men hurled women mid-air and lifted them onto their shoulders, and dancers bent forward and backward with wrists and ankles in angular symmetry. Dancers crawled in a hushed huddle, with Bach's heavenly music wafting through City Center. And, finally, Lisa Viola turned about and opened her arms warmly, a solo ambassador, wishing the audience adieu. Paul Taylor joined his company for a standing ovation, one of many curtain calls.
Paul Taylor's Dante Variations

Paul Taylor's Dante Variations

Photo © & courtesy of Lois Greenfield

Paul Taylor's Esplanade

Paul Taylor's Esplanade

Photo © & courtesy of Lois Greenfield

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