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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Speaking in Tongues, Spring Rounds

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 15, 2006
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
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212 431 5562
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About the Author:

Paul Taylor Dance Company - Speaking in Tongues, Spring Rounds

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, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, Julie Tice, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Jeffrey Smith, Sean Mahoney, Nathaniel Keuter, Eran Bugge

In Performances at City Center
www.citycenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 15, 2006


(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.


Speaking in Tongues (1988): Music by Matthew Patton, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company. The Company as A Man of Cloth (Orion Duckstein), and an ensemble of religious fanatics in a Pentecostal Church in the South, amidst a wall with fearful inscriptions and amidst a score with incomprehensible language was as riveting as a mesmerizing preacher would be in such circumstances. With deliberate walking and stark body language, the dancers arrange chairs onstage, against Jennifer Tipton's eerie lighting and Santo Loquasto's stylized costumes and referential set. In the culminating scene, the chairs topple and contain the parishioners, who appear as prisoners of their own distorted obsessions.

This is a lengthy and intense work to experience, almost one hour, and the contemporary score with disturbing language is wearing. However, it is illustrative of Taylor's social conscience and of his ability to create drama from abstract dance.

Spring Rounds (New York Premiere): Music by Richard Strauss (Divertimento, Op. 86, after Couperin), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by the Company.

This debut modern ballet was well worth the wait. To Richard Strauss' Divertimento, Op. 86, after Couperin, the Company, led by the effervescent Lisa Viola with her energized partner, Sean Mahoney, attired in Santo Loquasto's very spring-like costumes in greens and yellows, created literal and figurative rounds; that is, onstage circles, while also "making the rounds" in a social sense. With expansive leaps and soaring spins, outstretched arms and legs bent back, the dancers were the wind and sun and all of nature at once.

Wafts of spring romance blew in, with dancers' heads in each other's laps, whimsical lifts, lots of partner shifts, and even cartwheels, evocative of wind-born wildflowers and bursting buds. In this upbeat rite of spring, a dance of seduction ensues, but ever so discreet, with seven men dancing for seven women and vice versa. I look forward to seeing Spring Rounds again in the coming seasons. Paul Taylor is a wonder, "springing" forth with new ballets each and every season.


Lisa Viola and Sean Mahoney of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring Rounds
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield

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