Posted in dance, dance making, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Pure and simple

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Promethan FirePhoto by Paul B. Goode

An Appreciation

Paul Taylor has an “inquiring minds” approach to dancemaking, and I surmise from readings in his essays, the same ecleticism in his life.

Paul Taylor American Modern Dance

In his dances we benefit from exposure to Taylor’s far-flung tastes and ideas. The wide range of his imagination excites and entices.

Often multiple viewings yield deeper and deepter understandings. His dance seems so simple and pure. Its complexity is incrementally revealed.

Sometimes it runs to the Gothic and lurid, as in Big Bertha or Promethan Fire or The Word. Sometimes a pleasing surface hides an undercurrent of pain or sadness, like Company B. Some works are an homage, like Le Sacre du Printemps… or To Make Crops Grow. There are memories from a long life, like  Danbury Mix or Esplanade or Sea Lark.

The New York Season Begins

When you’ve dug into the canon and feel sated, Paul Taylor presents you with a new and nourishing gem. He is prolific. Each season brings another work. One year, it was American Dreamer (2013), another Death and the Damsel (2015). This season, it’s The Open Door and Ports of Call. The latter is a World Premiere with its first showing on March 8th, and the former has been introduced elsewhere but will make its New York bow at the Gala on March 9th.

The pleasures of discovery await. The Lincoln Center season begins March 7th and runs through the 26th.

Be prepared to be astonished, delighted and enlightened.

 

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Posted in dance, dance making, Lincoln Center, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

There will be dancing…

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Paul Taylor dancers by Paul B, Goode

@nycballet

The New York City Ballet ends its winter season at Lincoln Center this weekend with what for us is a highlight. The program of Richard Rodgers inspired ballets by three disparate but compatible choreographers.

It is hard to pick a favorite from among the three, but Carousel (A Dance) gets the nod for the rearity of its performance. Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet retells the cental romance from the 1945 musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Carousel (A Dance), created in 2002, is set to “The Carousel Waltz” and “If I Loved You.”

Peter Martins’ Thou Swell and Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth Avenue  on the other hand has given us the pleasure of frequent sightings. Both pieces make the most of a theatrical setting, with the Martins’ ballet using a ballroom for its home, and mingling that dance style in with ballet dance. Martins also gives us singers to accompany the nightclub mood.
George Balanchine’s ballet is a crowd-pleasing vaudeville pastiche with a little tap in the mix.

Enter @PaulTaylorDanceCompany

Dancing in right behind the @nycballet at the David H. Koch Theater, from March 7 through the 26th, is the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance troupe. Paul Taylor is the one of the last of the third generation of modern dance choreographers and pioneers. Taylor, born in 1930, was an original Martha Graham dancer. The New York season is an opportunity to catch up with the  new works Taylor has created for his dancers, and for his audience, and to see the beloved ones of the repertory. For several years now, Taylor has incorporated the works of other dance masters in the repertoire.

The premieres this 2017 season include Taylor’s Ports of Call, and The Open Door as well as Lila York’s Continum.

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Promethan Fire Photo by Paul B. Goode

On March 19th, the company has added a special program honoring the modern dance past, with performances of works by Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and a Paul Taylor. The evening, which begins at 6pm, is called Icons, and features the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Graham’s Diversion of Angels from 1948 and Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire from 2002, and presents guest artists from France’s Lyon Opera Ballet, Artistic Director Yorgos Loukos, in Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace from 1958.

Paul Taylor American Modern Dance is local, with headquarters in downtown NYC, and this year they are featuring an opportunity for fans to win a $500 Amazon gift card by sharing their New York love. For your chance to win in the We Live Here, Why Do You? contest, get an entry form and visit the company FB page.

Posted in dysfunction, riff

So unfair, folks

I am writing a drama about a failed businessman, who sees himself as a great visionary. One day he walks into a bar, and sits on a stool, pronouncing that he knows he could do a better job than the “so-called politicians.” The guys at the bar perked up and listened to him as he went on to prove how much he could do for them.

You know, I could get you your jobs back, he tells them. The world is not treating any of us fairly, he points out. I get that all the time. It’s so unfair. It’s hard being a white Christian. I got audited. Can you imagine? It’s so unfair.

Sad when a smart person like me isn’t appreciated, he goes on. Let me tell you, I am very smart. I can get your jobs back from China. It’ll be huge.

The plot goes on from there, where the trial balloons of his “campaign” which seem destined to unravel are picked up by news media. He becomes something of a media darling because what he says is always outrageous. He entertains. He’s a headline grabber.

He tells tall tales, some would call lies, but for now the media just laps it up. His lies don’t worry the press, because at every turn, it looks like his progress will be thwarted.  His supporters do too.

They love him, despite the disparity of their circumstances with his. They like that he says he can do anything and still win at the polls. They believe him, and they make it come true.

The plot is easy, although motivation and dialog are more of a challenge.The story has a storybook ending for our central character. For others it is the stuff of true nightmare and horror films.


The beauty of my drama is that it relies on a fact in the new America: Lying has become an art form for a segment of our society. One with faithful and believing acolytes.


Satire is an ineffective tool that only acts as an irritant to those in power and a balm to the rest of us. What is actually going on, the reality is already unbelievably absurd.

The actions of our leaders, sometimes extra-legal, unAmerican, anti-democratic, unpatriotic are already beyond the pale. They cannot be mocked. They are mocking us.


Diversions diverge from the democratic. Divisive cries deviate from the democracy.
Demonic acts dictate a dictatorial regime.


Never has preaching to the choir expressed the state of the union more completely. The New Yorker has a cartoon (by Sipress) in which there is a weather forecast for Dems and another for our friends across the aisle.

 

Posted in dysfunction

A farce, a vaudeville, a skit

While art ofttimes adds clarity to life issues, life, on many an occasion, is a mere imitation.
This is certainly true of the farce in which we are living now.

These days we are not playing out a great Shakespearean history, or even one of the Bard’s lesser comedies. We are thrown headlong into theater of the absurd. The pseudo- patriotic disruptors give us the chaotic spectacle of performance art.

There is hint of Macbeth, and a whiff of Tamburlaine, too, in some of the actors, of course, but the plots are thin melodrama. We have embraced Pirandello, accepted Ionesco, mimed Beckett. We are in the midst of a Brecht dystopia, without his or Kurt Weill’s humor.

They–the lead actors in this vaudeville– speak in barely disguised code, and catch-phrases. The language could be Mamet, if the f-bombs were race-baiters. The text is bombast, full of sounds, and fury, and signifying. The play, on the other hand, is… nothing.

The emperor has no conscience. Exit the king. The enemy within. The theater will answer the despair this reality show puts forth, not only with panels and forums, but with new works and new art. Artists will “speak truth to power” as they usually do.

Posted in Gala, Playwrights Horizons

Gala

Welcome spring with a theater near you. The one I have in mind right this moment is one of our favorites, Playwrights Horizons.

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“Far From Heaven” at Playwrights Horizons, pictured Kelli O’Hara and Isaiah Johnson. Photo by Joan Marcus

On May 8th, PHnyc presents A Celebration of Song for its spring fundraiser, at 583 Park Avenue, honoring three of the company’s alumni writers and featuring leading ladies Christine Ebersole (two-time Tony Award winner,) two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (also a two-time Tony Award winner) and Kelli O’Hara (Tony Award winner). The honorees are Tony Award nominee Scott Frankel (Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven at Playwrights), Tony Award nominee Michael Korie (Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven at Playwrights) and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife and Grey Gardens at Playwrights).

The evening will also pay special recognition to book writer Richard Greenberg (Far From Heaven, The Maderati at Playwrights) and director Michael Greif (Grey Gardens, Far From Heaven, Spatter Pattern at Playwrights).

The Grey Gardens writing team is returning to Broadway this spring with their new musical, War Paint,  under Grief’s direction and featuring LuPone and Ebersole. War Paint is previewing March 7 at The Nederlander Theatre.

Cocktails and a Silent Auction begin at 6pm with dinner and the program starting at 7:30pm. To reserve tables starting at $10,000, or individual tickets from $1000, please go to www.phnyc.org/gala/.

In related news, but of a more modest nature, Playwrights Horizons is holding their LIVEforFIVE lottery for the upcoming production of The Light Years, which begins previews on February 17th. The on-line lottery makes $5 tickets available for the first preview of a PHnyc production. Go to www.phnyc.org to participate.

 

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Posted in #festivital, The Public Theater, theater, Theater Resources Unlimited

It’s not just dessert

The arts feed us. They are not like cake. You can skip cake. You have to eat your vegetables.

cakedujourThere is tremendous nourishment to be found in museums and theaters. These provide us nutrients for our soul. I will focus here on theater arts, but it applies to all aspects of essential human endeavors in expression and self-expression.

Good and good for you! 

The arts, in their turn, need nourishing. They are most often supported by the public that attends to them. It’s a kind of symbiosis.

Not for profit theater is particularly vulnerable. The subscription houses that depend upon patrons will tell you that only x% is derived from the price of tickets; the rest is covered by donations, and sometimes public funding. In the present environment, the latter is likely –no scratch that– definitely not going to be much support.

Mind the gap

It is up to us, and to theater professionals to find their way around the gaps.

Twitter is explosive with opinions and comments on all sides, with many an artist standing tall in that forum. Some hail from abroad, including Canada based  University of Waterloo. Others like @GeorgeTakei and @Rosie (O’Donnell) are doing what we expect in their tweets, as is our dear @cher, whose all caps outrage is refreshing.

We can easily concede that the 140 character message does not begin to tell the story. For more complete dialog, there will be many artists empanelled in an effort to understand how to proceed.

The Public Theater is holding a series of fori on the subject of the election’s impact on the arts. In March, the panwels will address what responsible citizens can do in this new dystopian era; the series is called Truth to Power.

On February 20th, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) will take a direct look at the risks this election has created, and how the artistic community should and can address them.

March 3-5, Dixon Place in association with the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art hosts an International Human Rights Festival as their answer to life in the post election USA. The festival, a first of its kind in NYC’s long cultural history, celebrates the arts and activism.

Tom Block, the force behind the International Human Rights Festival talks about progressive art: