Posted in modern dance meets ballet, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sara Mearns

Meant to be

308px-Isadora_Duncan_(grayscale)
By Arnold Genthe (1869–1942) – Library of Congresshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Isadora_duncan.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=443628

Any true fan can see the possibility, but it took Paul Taylor and Lori Bellilove to realize it.

Sara Mearns, the New York City Ballet prima, and a favorite dancer of mine, will embody Isadora Duncan in the PTAMD spring season this coming March at Lincoln Center.  Her performance as Isadora Duncan had a sold out run in June at the Joyce.

What Taylor has envisioned is a reconstruction of works that Isadora Duncan performed, with the choreography reimagined by  by The Isadora Duncan Dance Company Artistic Director, Lori Bellilove. The program will be performed  during the 2018 Season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance.

Duncan is being celebrated for her role as a pioneer of modern dance, a mission Taylor has taken very much to heart. Her influence was vast, with ballet makers like Sergei Diaghilev saying she was a “kindred spirit,” and artists across various disciplines seeing her as a visionary. John Dos Passos wrote that “Art was whatever Isadora d

Ms. Mearns is tall, elegant, and as befits a ballerina, graceful. More than all of that she is a skilled actress.She has always taken on roles, acting out the impulses of her art. Her role in the Peter Martins ballet-meets-modern Barber Violin Concerto may have been preparation. Or perhaps she needed no prior reference– just her natural talents– to become Isadora.

For more information on PTAMD, please visit their site. Tickets for the 2018 season are not yet available.

 

Posted in dance, modern American dance, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

The magic that is a Paul Taylor Dance

 

Each year, Paul Taylor brings us two new works he has created. Now, with his newish company mandate that Paul Taylor American Modern Dance celebrate and archive the modern dance medium, his company also dances new works by contemporary choreographers and also presents and preserves pieces from the historical repertory.

Paul Taylor’s The Word is a piece we have only caught once before. On the penultimate matinee of this season, it was presented along with Book of Beasts, as well as the elegant and dancerly Cascade, a work that Taylor created in 1999.

Book of Beasts (1971) is full of fantastical creatures. It is scored in 9 parts, to the music of Schubert, Weber, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Mozart, as well as Boccherini, Falla and Tchikovsky, all played with zest on a pedal harpsichord (recorded by E. Power Biggs.) John Rawlings raucous costumes conspire the Taylor’s mood of happy-go-lucky menace in this piece. The Word shares this mood of cheerful malevolence.

Do I look for too much meaning in the amusing patterns of the dance? Perhaps, but this is what I find: In The Word, there appears to be some zealotry with a bracing chaser in the form of a woman, who may or may not be Eve. The religious scholars are not in a garden like Eden, but they worship and genuflect.

On the matinee on Sunday, March 25th, is Taylor’s Brandenburgs, a dance that adds depth to the Bach score it inhabit. It will also feature the delicious Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) and his new The Open Door.

 

Posted in modern American dance, modern dance, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Uncategorized

Jumping for Joy

The rites of spring tend to be worshipful of renewal, resumption and continuation. We are grateful to have as one of those rites, the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance spring at Lincoln Center.

1TrusanvoecGoodePrintempsLe Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal) was on the bill for the centenial of the Stravinsky-Nijinsky collaboration in February 2013 when we last saw it.

It is an homage in the Paul Taylor mode, created as an operatic rendering of a Keystone- Kops-and-Krooks silent film. Paul Taylor playfully references the Nijinsky production for Diaghiliev’s Ballets Russe which caused a near riot for the brutality it displayed.

Company B 1The Taylor version of Le Sacre… (The Rite of Spring) is for two pianos, and the dancers’ moves follow the urgency in the musical score with a very serious levity. 

Songs from an era, like the ones used in Taylor’s Company B, set a mood and place for a given dance number. (BTW You can catch our personal all time favorite Taylor piece on March 16th and 23rd at 7p.m.)

In Black TuesdayPaul Taylor kicks-off his dance piece about the Great Depression and its propellant great market crash with songs from the era. The Kennedy Center took a lead in commissioning this work from 2001, which is set to recorded versions of tunes like Irving Berlin’s “Slummin’ On Park Avenue,” and the better known Yip Harburg lyric “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”

The Weight of Smoke 1Paul Taylor renamed his dance enterprise as Paul Taylor American Modern Dance to fulfill dual objectives. On the one hand, the company aims to preserve and reincarnate classic pieces from the modern dance repertory and thus to keep them alive.

On the other, it commissions the creation of new works for that same repertory.

Doug Elkins received one such commission in 2016. The result is that he has choreographed The Weight of Smoke with and on the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Such collaboration is at the essence of what modern dance intends as a genre.

For a full schedule of the remaining performances in this 2017 Taylor Spring, please visit the Lincoln Center website.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in dance, dance making, drama, drama based on real events, historical drama, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Playwrights Horizons, The Debate Society, Uncategorized

What’s up?

1WorldsFairTeslaPresentationWorld’s Fairs are theme parks for progress. The 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, named in honor of Columbus’ landing in the Americas 400 years before, offered marvels never before seen.

 

Naturally it was commerce that drove the innovation. Technology was well represented by the likes of Nikola Tesla (exhibit pictured.)

Spectacles and the arts also set the stage for novelty and inspiration at Chicago’s great fair.  One feature of the 1893 Exposition was theatrical impressario, Steele MacKaye’s visionary Spectatorium which proved to be a costly and extravagant project. (Spoiler alert, don’t click on the link above if you prefer to be surprised.)

Weekend Plans?

The Light Years presented at Playwrights Horizons through April 2nd (opening night is March 13th) finds the personal in this grand historic event. T and B will be there so look for our review of this new work by the experimental troupe, The Debate Society, next week.

For more information on the production (and tickets), please visit the @PHnyc website.

Leaps and bounds

Acrobats, gymnasts and trapeze artists might be dismissed as circus performers, but their skills are undeniable. Those talents when put in the service of thought-provoking materials rise way above. They are often on display in a Paul Taylor season, and we are fortunate to have the 2017 one starting at Lincoln Center today, March 7th, and running through the 26th.

1TrusanvoecGoodePrintempsTaylor’s dancers (and the dances he devises for them) thrill and jump with all their heart and soul. There is abandoned precision in every move. Some of the highlights T and B will share this season are Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal);  The Weight of Smoke; Lost, Found and Lost; Syzygy and the new The Open Door, among others.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Koch Theater website.

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

Pure and simple

Promethean_rep1-300x168
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.

 

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

Spinning the human connection

Dance is music in motion which has “charms to soothe the savage breast.”

Photo © Paul B. Goode
Photo © Paul B. Goode
1.Images
Photo © Paul B. Goode
2.Images 1
Photo © Paul B. Goode
3.Spindrift 2
Photo © Paul b. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company with the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, at the David H. Koch Theater through April 3rd, manifests the catharsis of which Congreve spoke with every leap across the big stage.

A program of Spindrift (1993,) Images (1977) and Promethean Fire (2002) speaks to the human connection with a religious awe. The trio of Taylor pieces is devoid of humbug, of course, but each looks at man’s existence relative to community (Spindrift), idols (Images) and evolution (Promethean Fire.) At least this is a broad stroke explanation of the stories these dances tell.

Images is the most pleasing of the works, with lively costuming by Gene Moore and a soupçon of an exotic variety in the movement, set to a Debussy piano . Promethean Fire has the gravitas of a Bach score and handsome Santo Loquasto costumes. Spindrift, which sent me scrambling for a definition– it is waves of sea or sand spray–is a very serious work with a string quartet for background.

By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Lonpicman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Footnote: Larry Keigwin’s new work, Rush Hour, inspired by the George Segal sculpture of the same name, is on the bill again on Sunday March 27th and Friday April 1st.

Sullivania, one of Taylor’s two new works (along with Dilly Dilly), reappears later in the season as well. The final premiere is Doug Elkins’ The Weight of Smoke which also shows up on the bill of fare again in the next couple of weeks.

For more information and tickets for the New York season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, please visit http://ptamd.org/LC2016/

Posted in dance, Larry Keigwin premiere, modern dance, modern dance meets ballet, Paul Taylor, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Paul Taylor Dance Company

Welcoming the newest dance to the family

A new Paul Taylor American Modern Dance season also means a new dance or two or, this year, four. Two are the creation of Paul Taylor , bringing his oeuvre to 144, and two are by choreographers he has commissioned. These collaborations in keeping modern dance vibrant are part of the PTAMD mandate.

Promethan Fire also on the Gala rep. Photo by Paul B. Goode
Promethan Fire also on the Gala rep. Photo by Paul B. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company sprung into its New York season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on March 15th. It will stay through the April 3rd matinee. During this season, also in keeping with the mandate to hono, celebrate and preserve modern dance, PTAMD is presenting Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels and Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will perform McKayle’s 20th Century masterpiece.

At the Gala last evening, Paul Taylor’s 143rd dance, Sullivaniana got its first New York showing. The guest choreographers in the Taylor Company Commissions initiative for the season are Larry Keigwin and Doug Elkin. Keigwin’s work Rush Hour received its world premiere last night, also danced by PTDC. The dancing was accompanied by live music from the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under Donald York’s baton in the Keigwin piece and Sullivaniana was conducted by Tong Chen.

Sullivaniana, by the way, was danced to Sir Arthur Sullivan’s overtures from Iolanthe, Pirates of Penzance and Patience.  With the ladies costumed as music hall dancers in high heels and colorful frocks, and the gents attired in equally colorful window-pane suits appropriate to the mid to late 1800’s by Santo Loquasto who also designed a set to look like a music hall stage for the piece, Sullivaniana is alive with duets. At one point, Taylor brings all ten of the cast together under Sullivan’s “Hail hail, the gang’s all here;” at another they miss each other entirely as they pass on the stage. As is usual in a Taylor work, there is plenty of wit in Sullivaniana.

While the Sullivaniana cast are clad in vaudevillian trappings, those in Rush Hour wear haute workout gear (by Fritz Masten) and run about barefoot. The 16 dancers occupying the space, often act in pairs, mimicking each other’s moves.  Rush Hour is a mixture of austere and lively, with music composed for the Keigwin piece by Adam Crystal that alternates speedy passages with leisurely ones; it’s as if once the action is slowed down, it refires again. Our only other experience of Larry Keigwin was in a Fall For Dance program years ago; a couple of more viewings of Rush Hour should help solidify impressions.

For more information on the spring season of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, please visit the LC website.