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Black Tuesday, ABT vs. Taylor


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#1 Farrell Fan

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Posted 09 March 2002 - 02:15 PM

I had seen ABT dance Paul Taylor's marvelous Black Tuesday, and last night saw the Taylor company do it. I much preferred the latter -- it was grittier and more poignant somehow. SOMEHOW --there's the rub. It's on occasions like this that I bemoan my lack of technical expertise. Is there anyone else who's seen both and can compare them?
I know someone once said "comparisons are odious," but that was in the 14th Century, before the invention of ballet.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 09 March 2002 - 05:30 PM

I haven't seen the Taylor company do this, alas, and so I have no right to comment. But I will anyway smile.gif My guess is that one of the things that makes a difference is weight, the way the dancers use their bodies. Modern dancers use the floor in a different way -- it's not a springboard, something to flee, but something to sink into and use. Probably all the Taylor dancers have ballet training, I'd guess -- not something one would have said 30 years ago. I'd also guess the piece was really done on those bodies and transferred to ABT's dancers (Taylor's usual way of working). If Lisa Viola didn't do the "Big Bad Wolf" number, I'll be sorely disappointed.

Now, for those of you who actually saw it..... smile.gif

#3 Farrell Fan

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Posted 09 March 2002 - 10:19 PM

Lisa Viola did indeed do the Big Bad Wolf number; Sylvia Nevjinsky did Sittin' on a Rubbish Can; Annmaria Mazzini, the Boulevard of Broken Dreams; and Patrick Corbin, Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Which brings up the question of why the recordings used are not identified in the program. This was also true at ABT. I recognized Connie Boswell and Bing Crosby, but was that Bessie Smith on the Rubbish Can? It's a disservice to the audience and to the memory of the artists involved not to provide identification.

#4 liebs

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Posted 09 March 2002 - 10:21 PM

Alexandra, of course, you're right. The Taylor dancers use the floor and really go down into their plie rather than skimming across the floor as the ABT dancers did. And this is the Taylor company's home ground, so it would be surprising if they did not give a stronger performance. But I did like the piece at ABT - it is just more strongly danced and characterized by Taylor's dancers.

Viola did the "big, bad wolf" number and was terrific. But for me the best performances were by the pimp (I think it was Duckstein) who was much more obscene and evil than the ABT dancer who played the role more humorously and Corbin in "Brother, can you spare a dime?" Not only is Corbin the Taylor dancer par excellence (no one else in the company comes close to his style and precision, IMO) but he brought an anger and poignancy to the role that was missing at ABT. I was also impressed with Manzzini (sp?) in "Blvd of Broken Dreams." She was a women who had been around and whose spirit was almost broken, at ABT the dancer was less angry.

From what I have read Taylor made the parts on his dancers than Susan McGuire taught the piece to ABT. At ABT, there are several casts, even last fall at City Center Stiefel was no longer dancing "Brother, can you spare a dime?". But in the Taylor company, there is a single cast so the dancers have more opportunities to develop their roles.


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