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Review: Paul Taylor Dance Company Ends Its Run On a Joyful Note

By Bethany Hopta, Contributing Writer, March 28, 2017

The concluding performance of the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s run at Lincoln Center delivered an energetic and joyful punch to its audience, and celebrated the artistry and choreography of Paul Taylor, one of America’s groundbreaking modern dance choreographers.

The afternoon began with Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rehearsal). A fun piece for the company, this high-energy dance emphasizes precise choreography with staccato movements, underscored by music by Igor Stravinsky, played beautifully by pianists Margaret Kampmeier and Blair McMillen. Jennifer Tipton’s lighting design accents the different groups of dancers and pulls the audience through the various transitions of the piece; the use of a scrim adds to the effect—transforming a hazy picture to focused clarity. The black curtain backdrop provides a contrast for John Rawlings’ costume and set design to pop; the grey tops and bottoms, the black checked outfits, and the stark, white furniture are engaging to the eye. One small fumbled lift at the beginning of the piece was the only flaw in this sharp, engaging dance.

Eran Bugge and Sean Mahoney in ‘Le Sacre du Printemps;’ photo; Paul B. Goode/Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The Open Door, having its world premiere during this run of performances, is full of characters at a dance party. The curtain opens to reveal the interior of a room on a painted drop with light blue walls and windows, with the outdoors suggested by a blue and green watercolor wash behind. In the room, a well-dressed man (Michael Novak) is preparing a grouping of red chairs for his guests. The set and costumes for this piece are designed by William Ivey Long, and as the guests arrive, the audience gets a show. Colorful costumes adorn very different types of people, each visible as he or she is greeted by their host. A mother and her exuberant child in turquoise, an athlete in gym shorts, shirt, and sneakers, a military man in uniform, a society lady in her finery (and extra padding), a dandy in a red velvet suit, a painter with her palette, a young man donned in plaid, and an elite society couple. Each person has his or her own, specific choreography and personality, which is initially conveyed. The interaction of the different characters and the small groups, and then large groups, make this piece unique as people find common ground and movement. The private moments of the host: the furniture set up of the party and the private dancing after the guests left seem especially poignant. The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, led by conductor Ted Sperling, performed a sprightly rendition of Enigma Variations, by Edward Elgar. At the end of the performance special recognition was given to Francisco Graciano, who is retiring from the company this summer.

The Open Door by Paul Taylor Dance Company; photo: Paul B. Goode/Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The Open Door by Paul Taylor Dance Company; photo: Paul B. Goode/Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The performance concluded with Brandenburgs, composed of a group of five male dancers, three female dancers, and a male soloist. The choreography mingles the dancers onstage in complicated patterns, propelled by the gorgeous orchestral score of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6. The costumes, designed by Santo Loquasto, defined the groups. The male core dancers wore dark green unitards accented with jewels at the neck and waist; their formfitting outfits underscored their powerful, perfect jumps. The women’s long, soft black dresses with jewel accents at the neck and waist emphasized their flowing, graceful choreography. The male soloist, Michael Trusnovec, wore olive green tights with a jeweled waistband. Moving in isolation, and together, the dancers exuded power and excitement. The joy of the piece was palpable and underscored by the performance of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Ted Sperling.

At the end of the performance Mr. Taylor came out for a bow and the audience gave him a spirited standing ovation. Be sure to make plans to see this New York City treasure the next time they are performing in the area—you’ll be glad you did.

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Paul Taylor Dance Company at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on March 26, 2017.

Le Sacre Du Printemps (The Rehearsal); Choreography by Paul Taylor, music by Igor Stravinsky. Dancers: Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, Eran Bugge, Laura Halzack, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, James Samson, Heather McGinley, Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho.

The Open Door; Choreography by Paul Taylor, music by Edward Elgar. Dancers: Michael Novak, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Heather McGinley, George Smallwood, Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho.

Brandendburgs; Choreography by Paul Taylor, music by Johann Sebastian Bach; Dancers: Michael Trusnovec, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Eran Bugge, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo, George Smallwood.


Cover:  George Smallwood, Sean Mahoney, Robert Kleinendorst, Michael Apuzzo and James Samson in ‘Brandenburgs;’ photo: Paul B. Goode.


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