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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Runes, Le Grand Puppetier, Mercuric Tidings

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 10, 2004
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
212.247.0430

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About the Author:

Paul Taylor Dance Company - Runes, Le Grand Puppetier, Mercuric Tidings

552 Broadway
NY, NY 10012
(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

In Performances at City Center
(Website)

(See Other Taylor Reviews)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 10, 2004

Runes (1975): Music by Gerald Busby, Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by George Tacet, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Lisa Viola, Richard Chen See, Silvia Nevjinsky, Heather Berest, Michael Trusnovec, Annmaria Mazzini, Orion Duckstein, Julie Tice, James Samson, Parisa Khobdeh, and Sean Mahoney.

According to the program, Runes are "secret writings for casting a spell." I found the choreography to be stylistically Egyptian, with angular hands, elbows, and feet, as well as intensely focused duets that resemble primordial and primitive characters. The male dancers sport fur on their backs, and the torso contractions are sexual and suggestive. The shadows in Jennifer Tipton's lighting were extremely effective, and the earth tones of the costumes were perfectly conceived. This was a highly kinetic and spirited dance, and, as the moon changed positions in the sky, the mood seemed to change, as well. Gerald Busby's score is dissonant and driven. The Company was in excellent form; in fact, they seemed to cast a spell on the audience in this ethereal work.

Le Grand Puppetier (World Premiere): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Pianola version of Petrushka), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Richard Chen See as The Emperor, Lisa Viola as His Daughter, Patrick Corbin as His Puppet, Robert Kleinendorst as His Courtier, Michael Trusnovec as His Red Guardsman, Andy LeBeau as His Pink Guardsman, and Heather Berest, Orion Duckstein, Amy Young, Julie Tice, and Michelle Fleet as His Subjects.

This Premiere work is Paul Taylor at his finest. It seems that Mr. Taylor never loses his unique ability to create an entirely new work from the essence of an older, more classical work, in this case Petrushka, originally performed by Nijinsky in its pure form. Richard Chen See, as The Emperor, is equally powerful and poignant, as he possesses the magic wand or is possessed by this wand. As possessor, he is sadistic and arrogant. As possessed, he loses his strength, limb by limb. Lisa Viola, as His Daughter, never sacrifices her elegance and agility for theatricality. She is capable of exuding coyness and seduction, both for His Puppet and for His Red Guardsman, each of whom alternate duets with Ms. Viola, exuding love or rejection. Robert Kleinendorst, in a puffed up purple costume, is a hilarious, old Queen, in the sense of drag. His mannerisms are overtly effeminate and laced with delicious parody.

There is a prop, a narrow black rope, hung around the neck, that seems to suffocate and change the power, whenever it appears. There is also the wand that is switched from the possession of the Puppet to the possession of The Emperor. It was lovely to hear the familiar Petrushka ballet music recorded on Pianola and to see Petrushka's signature arm movements against the invisible wall that imprisons His Puppet. Santo Loquasto's sets and costumes are appropriate, colorful, and upscale, fairy tale in quality and style. Stravinsky's score was well interpreted and developed. Kudos to Robert Kleinendorst, who resembled, as my guest noted, Nathan Lane in Bird Cage.

Mercuric Tidings (1982): Music by Franz Schubert (Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Costumes by Gene Moore, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Silvia Nevjinsky, Michael Trusnovec, and the Company. This was a pure and ecstatic work, all in red shadings against a red backdrop, warm and evocative, athletic and airy. This season, I have especially noticed an extreme lightness, as dancers silently leap into partners' arms, with seeming effortlessness, the inherent silence as dramatic as the moving, visual image. Schubert's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 generated swirling and soaring leaps and some of the most exquisite figures Mr. Taylor has designed. Silvia Nevjinsky and Michael Trusnovec were extremely powerful and flawless in their leads.

Again, Jennifer Tipton is deserving of kudos for her incredible creativity with warm, glowing, and ever-changing lighting effects that allow the simplest of backdrops and theatrical spotlights to showcase this sensational Company. With and without sets, the City Center stage was brilliant and beautiful. Kudos to Paul Taylor, once again, for his classic and current works, imbued with imagination and energy.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Mercuric Tidings
Photo by Paul B. Goode

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