Jump to content
Alexandra

Paul Taylor

Recommended Posts

Any reports on how the company looks in performance at the David H. Koch Theater (better know at the NY State Theater) at Lincoln Center?

Share this post


Link to post

They were fantastic a couple of weeks ago, in a program including Brandenburgs and Piazzola Caldera -- both of which are part of the Lincoln Center season. Brandenburgs, especially, was beautifully danced.

This was on a relatively small stage and in a quite intimate auditorium. I would love to hear how they look -- and how they adjust their dancing -- when performing in spaces that are so much larger..

Share this post


Link to post

I raised the following question:

I would love to hear how they look -- and how they adjust their dancing -- when performing in spaces that are so much larger.

Alistair Macaulay addresses this in the first paragraph of his review in today's NY Times:

The Paul Taylor Dance Company season that opened ... Tuesday night is historic. Bringing this great troupe to Lincoln Center for its first season there, it shows how richly this company's dancing projects into the heights and depths of the multi-tier house: a marvel. If you're used to watching dance in the Koch Theater, then you can't help feeling that the three dimensions of its stage come alive in unfamiliar ways: the very air onstage seems to have a new texture.

Amy raised a question about canned v. live music. Dirac has posted the following article On the Links forum for Tuesday. Thanks, dirac.

http://www.crainsnew.../120319968/1072

You would need a very good orchestra -- not just a pit band -- for the Handel and Bach on the opening night program. Ponchielli, I suppose, could be played by lesser musicians, even pick-up groups during tours, but why bother for that? The Piazzola could only be played by specialists.

Taylor uses so many different kinds of music -- often identified with a specific musical genres or even artists. I wonder if any over-all program of live music is possible, except for certain pieces. As for live musicians playing, when appropriate, certain individual works ... why not?

P.S. Macaulay mentions that Balanchine, who choreographed a solo for Taylor in Episodes (1959), also invited him to dance Apollo. This helps me understand the background of the Apollo figure and three muse-like ladies in the much later Brandenbergs -- clearly a homage to Balanchine's ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

One of the things to remember about the Taylor company is that the vast majority of their performances in any given year are one the road - they are a popular touring ensemble and so have experience in many different kinds of halls. I've seen them in tradition 'main and balconies' houses, and other, flatter venues and they have rolled with them all.

Share this post


Link to post

Today's Times dance coverage was telling . . . if you read the print coverage. Macaulay's review of the Taylor company commanded the front page of the Arts section. The review continued on an inner page where there was also a smaller review of the Graham company at the Joyce (what a comedown from the days when they used to play the State Theater):

http://www.nytimes.c...?_r=1&ref=dance

The positioning and relative size of the two reviews tells me that, at least for the Times and at least for now, Taylor has gotten the better of Graham. I say for now because Taylor's successors will have to confront the same problem that the Limon, Ailey, Graham and Cunningham troupes have all had to confront -- what do you do for repertory once the dominant choreographer is gone. Do you go the Cunningham route and say, "The Hell with it!"? Or do you morph into a true repertory company like the Limon and now the Graham company have done? (And contrary to what The Nation's dance critic wrote in that article about the Cunningham company, it was the Limon company -- not the Graham company -- which pioneered the idea of a modern dance company taking on new works and resurrecting old favorites by other choreographers once the founder had died.) (The Ailey company was a repertory company from the get-go so they have had the easiest time of all without their founder.)

In any event, the Graham season sounds really interesting:

Graham Every Soul Is a Circus

Peter Sparling Beautiful Captives (video montage)

Mary Wigman Witch Dance

Lar Lubovitch Lamentation Variation

Richard Move Lamentation Variation

Graham Night Journey

Share this post


Link to post

I saw the March 18th matinee of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The afternoon begins with ‘Mercuric Tidings’ which is a pure dance piece set to excerpts from Franz Schubert’s glorious Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. Unfortunately all the music is taped, due to the exorbitant cost of a live orchestra in New York City. I really love this work, especially the forms of the movements which keep growing and changing into gorgeous patterns. All the dancers are splendid, leaping and spinning at a breakneck pace. There is so much depth to this dance that I need to see it several more times to even touch the surface of all ‘Mercuric Tidings’ has to offer.

‘House of Joy’ is a very disappointing new Paul Taylor work. It is set in a brothel and though there are hookers, pimps and johns on display, very little actually happens. The company acts very well, but they hardly dance at all. Fortunately ‘House of Joy’ is very brief, but even so it seems to be a waste of time and talent.

‘Big Bertha’ is a disturbingly powerful Paul Taylor piece. Bertha is a mechanical amusement park doll who plays music when a coin is fed in her slot. The Bs are an all American 1950s family who enjoy dancing to Bertha’s tunes. But all too suddenly Bertha becomes an evil force and destroys the happy B family.

By the end of the dance, Mr. B has raped and killed his daughter and Mrs. B reveals a red stripper outfit under her June Cleaver clothes. Just before the curtain comes down, Mr. B joins Bertha and becomes a malevolent amusement park doll. All the performers are fantastic – Amy Young as Bertha, Michelle Fleet as Mrs. B and Eran Bugge as Miss B. The real standout, however, is Michael Trusnovec’s Mr. B. His dancing and acting fully show the dark side of 1950s America.

The afternoon ends with ‘Company B’, set to recordings of the Andrews Sisters. This work shows the lighthearted innocence of wartime America juxtaposed against shadowy figures of young boys going off to fight and die in World War II.

Many ballet companies dance ‘Company B’, among them American Ballet Theatre. I agree with chief dance critic of the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay, that the way the Taylor dancers use their weight in ‘Company B’ is more effective than ABT’s aerial lightness. When Robert Kleinendorst falls at the end of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”, there is no doubt that he has been felled by enemy soldiers. In ABT’s production of ‘Company B’ the young boy’s death is too easy to miss.

All the Taylor dancers are superb, but a few (along with Kleinendorst) really stand out. Francisco Graciano is all perfect rhythm and syncopated movement in “Tico-Tico”. James Samson is very funny as the nerdy guy being chased by seven women in “Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!” Amy Young, so menancing as the automaton in ‘Big Bertha’, brings tears to my eyes as a girl sending her young love (Sean Mahoney) off to war in “There Will Never Be Another You”.

I hope to see the Paul Taylor Company during their New York season for many years to come.

I would enjoy these dancers even more, however, if they performed with a live orchestra instead of to taped music.

Share this post


Link to post

Any reports on how the company looks in performance at the David H. Koch Theater (better know at the NY State Theater) at Lincoln Center?

I was at the Wednesday 3/21 performance, and saw "Junction," "3 Epitaphs," "House of Cards," and "Mercuric Tidings." I think both the company and Taylor's choreography look splendid in their new NYC digs. I was a little concerned that the larger confines -- both stage and hall -- might drain the life out of at least some of the works (the way the Met's towering vastness can, IMO). But no, everything on the program looked vivid and bristling with energy -- even tiny, loopy "3 Epitaphs." "Mercuric Tidings" and "House of Cards" especially really bloomed in the space.

I've never grown accustomed to the way dance looks at City Center. I'm one of those people who likes to watch dance at least one level up from the orchestra (or from the back of the orchestra if there's no up to be had). City Center's hall is so shallow that even from the Grand Tier (which I don't like) or the front of the Mezzanine (which I like better) the dancing looks oddly foreshortened and the stage looks like a postage stamp even though it's not that small. You're closer to the dancers, yes, but the angle of view strikes me as an unhappy one. It's like peering down into a crevasse rather than gazing out over a vista. In NYST, you are further from the dancers, but because the hall is deeper the angle of view lets the choreography breathe, even from on high. So, I for one, am thrilled by the move.

The theater was comfortably full -- maybe it's the novelty of a Lincoln Center season coupled with the Atrium's ability to push discount tickets close to the performance date. The third and fourth rings were closed, but the company always closed off City Center's balcony, so this seemed like business as usual. (On weeknights during a PTDC run, City Center's huge front and rear Mezzanine could seem distressingly underpopulated even so.)

Like everyone else on the planet I wish the company could afford live music, and when I win Lotto I will make sure that that happens. But I wasn't as troubled by the recorded music as I expected to be from the press reports. It sounded odd at first because the sound was coming straight at me head on rather than up from out of the pit. I was surprised at how disconcerting that was -- but I guess thirty plus years of attending ballet and opera performances in that particular venue with live music has conditioned me to expect a particular sonic landscape and my ears were caught off guard by the change. And of course recorded music never sounds as richly dimensional as live music, even in NYST's less-than-ideal acoustics. (Although these were admittedly improved by the recent renovation -- the bassoon always seemed to be going "braaap-braaap-braaap" somewhere behind my left ear, and that just doesn't happen anymore.) But once I got used to it, the fact that the music was recorded slipped to the back of my consciousness. In any event, PTDC has been using recorded music for some time now -- so it's just a fact of life.

I hope the company continues to get the fundraising support it needs to make a 3 week Lincoln Center season feasible for years to come. Two two-week seasons would be even better. wink1.gif

Share this post


Link to post

I hope the company continues to get the fundraising support it needs to make a 3 week Lincoln Center season feasible for years to come. Two two-week seasons would be even better. wink1.gif

And considering the abbreviated seasons recently from Limon and Graham, a long run like this seems even more important.

Share this post


Link to post

I hope the company continues to get the fundraising support it needs to make a 3 week Lincoln Center season feasible for years to come. Two two-week seasons would be even better. wink1.gif

And considering the abbreviated seasons recently from Limon and Graham, a long run like this seems even more important.

It's admittedly an aficionado's perspective, but there's nothing like marinating in a company during a multi-week season. Other than Ailey, I can't think of another modern dance troupe that reliably mounts one at some New York City venue year after year. Am I missing anyone? Pilobolus? I'm not sure there's anyone else who reliably gets even a one-week NY season year-in-and-year-out. Even a week in NYC costs a bundle to do. And ABT's incredible shrinking City Center seasons have me in a real funk -- that's where I enjoy watching the company the most. (Although I'd love watching them at NYST even more ... but that's a matter for a different thread.)

Share this post


Link to post

Paul Taylor Dance Company is doing "The Uncommitted" at Sarasota Ballet in October. Has anyone seen this ballet? Is it worth seeing? Should I drive down to Sarasota and see this (3 hour drive, but I do have friends there so more reason than one to go down).

Share this post


Link to post

Did anyone else receive Taylor's brochure for their upcoming Lincoln Center season? Let's just say that their cover photo is, well, how should one say, far more suggestive than I'm used to seeing from them. It's a great photo, and the dancer is beautiful. But, um, wow.

Share this post


Link to post

The photography in the Paul Taylor brochure looks similar to the type of advertising that Alvin Ailey has been doing in recent years in its brochures.  

For Sara Mearns fans, she will be dancing with the Taylor company on certain dates at the Koch Theater in Isadora Duncan dances.  Here is a review of performance of Duncan works that took place at a one night only gala last June.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/arts/dance/review-sara-mearns-joins-isadora-duncans-maenads-and-nymphs.html

Share this post


Link to post

For those interested, Sara Mearns is performing as a guest artist with Paul Taylor Dance Company during its current engagement at the Koch Theater. She is performing solo dances created by Isadora Duncan, accompanied by Cameron Grant on the piano.  The remaining dates for her performances are Mar 21, 22 and 24 (evening).  Go to the Koch Theater website for more info.

Share this post


Link to post

Interesting project for Mearns. Isadora Duncan was a fascinating woman in many ways, but I can't imagine that her creations have been passed down with any accuracy. Not that they should be, it seems to me she was a woman of a particular era. I don't really understand any of the attempts to recreate her works.

Share this post


Link to post

I've been to a few PTDC performances this season. One thing is worrying: Michael Trusnovec has now cancelled several shows. I've gotten inserts of his replacements in all the shows I've been to. Trusnovec has been so much a part of the PTDC as I've known it. His retirement will be very very hard for the company.

Share this post


Link to post

Mearns was very successful with many of the  solos... as one might expect of a dancer with such a heart.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, vipa said:

Interesting project for Mearns. Isadora Duncan was a fascinating woman in many ways, but I can't imagine that her creations have been passed down with any accuracy. Not that they should be, it seems to me she was a woman of a particular era. I don't really understand any of the attempts to recreate her works.

I've learned some of the repertory (from Gemze deLappe) and been involved in other reconstructions.  It's incredibly satisfying to do, particularly musically.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

There seem to be firm differences of opinion about Isadora Duncan's contributions in the field of dance. Not being knowledgeable on this subject, it would be useful to at least watch the film from the late '60s starring Vanessa Redgrave. Apparently Duncan was critical of ballet, and some of those critical of her have naturally been ballet lovers. Therefore, it is a bit ironic that one of the premier ballerinas of our day should be re-enacting the choreography and performances of Isadora Duncan on the stage of DHK Theater. On Sunday evening I witnessed another triumph by Sara Mearns—this time a barefooted Sara Mearns, dressed in a vibrant, flowing tunic, with her sumptuous blonde hair loose. Youthfulness, beauty, grace, vitality,   ardor—all emanated profusely from her person and dancing, and left one marveling. On the other hand, having seen her numerous times, and knowing her talent and allure, her dedication and spiritedness, only the failure to fully appreciate previously the pulchritude of her arms genuinely surprised me. 

Without a doubt Duncan harbored colossal ambitions regarding this art form. According to the program note, Dances of Isadora "offers [her] vision of dance, primordial at its root and universal in its expression." Therefore, it is fitting that Mearns is seen standing on a pedestal when the stage is illuminated. Out of the succession of solos that follow one set to Liszt's Les Funérailles seems melodramatic. All the rest—mostly to piano pieces by Chopin, and two by Brahms, played by the superb Cameron Grant onstage—are thoroughly captivating, partly on account of the exquisite spontaneity in Mearns' dancing. The staging and set by Lori Belilove are simple and effective. It may not be ballet, yet Dances of Isadora with Sara Mearns is twenty-five minutes or so of virtually unalloyed bliss!

Edited by Royal Blue

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

 It may not be ballet, yet Dances of Isadora with Sara Mearns is twenty-five minutes or so of virtually unalloyed bliss!

I agree with you completely.  The Duncan dances showed new facets of Mearns' s brilliance.  I loved every minute of it.  In fact, the entire program was incredible. 

They started out with Trisha Brown's Set and Reset.    The first time I saw this work I disliked  it, but after each viewing I came to appreciate its importance.

The program ended with the awe inspiring Esplanade.  Someone in my vicinity apparently had never before seen Esplanade and audibly gasped the first time someone did a dive to the floor.  It made me realize how wonderful it is  when generations of new audiences come to experience this masterpiece for the very first time.   I hope the Paul Taylor company can continue after the master has passed on.

 

Share this post


Link to post

I'm envying all of you who had the chance to see this program.  It's full of dances and styles that I love.  One of the things that I notice here is the sense of physical daring that comes with each of these works.  They may be from different parts of the dance world, but they share many kinetic things.  It is, in its way, the kind of programming that Diaghilev would have created -- seeing more excitement in the complimentary material than in academic distinctions of type and style.

2 hours ago, abatt said:

It made me realize how wonderful it is  when generations of new audiences come to experience this masterpiece for the very first time. 

Absolutely -- when we're steeping in a particular topic, as we all are here, it's hard to remember the thrill of a first encounter.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, vipa said:

Interesting project for Mearns. Isadora Duncan was a fascinating woman in many ways, but I can't imagine that her creations have been passed down with any accuracy. Not that they should be, it seems to me she was a woman of a particular era. I don't really understand any of the attempts to recreate her works.

Vipa, I think it is fascination with a legend... just as we try to put new male virtuoso dancers in Spectre de la Rose... we all want to catch a glimpse of a legend... 

And of course, no one alive has actually seen Isadora dance (except for that flurry out from the shrubbery & back in again... which I feel I caught a glimpse of in Mearns on Sunday).   Who knows how much of what the disciples passed on was the disciples interpretation of what they remembered... what was disciple and what was Duncan?  

We have a sense of Duncan's spirt from her dancing and a sense of the strictures of the time... 

Whenever it was upper body expression (torso, arms, head, focus), I thought Mearns triumphed...   when she was trying to step out of her legs muscle memory, I thought she was slightly less so... as if she were trying desperately not to do ballet's version of similar steps but was trying to exist in someone else's skin and someone else's muscle memory.  Watching her, it felt as if those bits were going to evolve into something more as she performs the piece over and over... 

Whoever does Duncan has to look like they improvised the movement themselves... like it was born that moment...   so much of this worked...  Butterfly worked particularly well (Hello Loie Fuller?), and Petals.   With Petals, though, I wondered why they did not fall until the last moments of the dance... I have seen others do this dance, so long ago now that I cannot totally trust my memory... and I was sure there were moments earlier particularly where petals had fallen in the past.   I wondered if she used real petals and could not crush as many hidden into her fingers as one could with silk petals?  

In the Funeral piece, she seemed sad, frail and vulnerable... but for some reason I wanted to see the agony of tragedy in her... not sure where this desire in me came from... perhaps from watching Annabelle Gamson or some Hollywood clip?  It could be totally misplaced.  I just wanted to see the "powerful tragic Isadora", and Mearns was lyrical here.

Also, I think she was trying not to use ballet's gravity defiance in some of the skipping jumping moments... I wonder if this is the disciples passing down memory of an older Duncan.   I am not sure it fits with a childlike persephone-esque moments... what child ever was earthy in their skipping?  Is it not always a temps levé feeling?  I wondered how much of this was a coaching request.   

There is a remarkable amount of Duncan on youtube these days (truly the internet is a modern miracle), so one can see others in these pieces.  Mearns' delivery is as extraordinary as the artist she is.  There is this curious clip (not Annabelle Gamson)

and this lovely clip of Loretta Thomas... which reminded me more of Mearns' performance than some of the others.  There are several videos of director Lori Belilove there as well.

 

Edited by Amy Reusch

Share this post


Link to post

Always glad to see some Duncan, but particularly right now, on the first day of spring!

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×