By Walter Rutledge
Every artist desires longevity. Beyond the exuberance of youth, and then the serious and cerebral commitment to perfecting one’s craft there comes a time when an artist just creates. This results in a clear and uncontrived conversation between the artist and their muse; and a grateful public has the good fortune to experience the results of this loving alliance. Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, and Graham come to mind as artists who created works pass the age of eighty. Age did not diminish their creativity; to the contrary, each expressed an ease and artistic confidence. Paul Taylor (who celebrated his eightieth birthday on July 29) has joined the ranks of prolific artists creating for art’s sake.
On December 18 and 19 the Paul Taylor Dance Company performed at the Queen Theatre in the Park. It was an excellent opportunity to see the company prior to the City Center season, February 22 through March 6. The Sunday afternoon performance featured three works spanning twenty-nine years of creative genius, Arden Court (1981) Company B (1991) and a new work Three Dubious Memories.
Three Dubious Memories is a cleverly designed and crafted work; it shares with the audience three recollections of a love triangle. To Taylor’s credit the work is void of pretension making it an extremely pleasant theatrical experience. The humanistic qualities were presented naturally and unforced. The audience was able to enjoy this complex adventure, which runs the gamut of emotions without becoming heavy handed or melodramatic.
The work consists of three sections that depict each lover’s version of events and a concluding section entitled Threnody. Amy Young- The Woman in Red, Robert Kleinendorst- The Man in Green, and Sean Mahoney- The Man in Blue were each enlightening in all three renditions of the story. They were flanked by a group of choristers lead by choirmaster James Samson.
The choristers functioned, in many respects, as a dancing version of an omnipresent Greek chorus; they were also the watchful eyes of the world at large. Each section received a different choral treatment complimenting the new perceptive. The group moved with the strong yet unencumbered choreographic dynamic that we almost take for granted when it comes to Taylor’s work.
The City Center season will feature two new works. In addition to Three Dubious Memories the company will also perform Phantasmagoria. Other highlights include Taylor masterworks Arden Court (1981), Also Playing (2009), Black Tuesday (2001), Brief Encounters (2009), Cloven Kingdom (1976), Company B (1991), Dust (1977), Orbs (1966), Polaris (1976), Speaking in Tongues (1991), Promethean Fire (2002), The Word (1998) and Esplanade (1975).
The opening night, February 22, at 7pm., the Taylor classic, Oh, You Kid!, will be accompanied by Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. “It is a great pleasure to have my Company be performing again to live music and to partnerwith Rick Benjamin and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, with whom I originally worked when creating Oh, You Kid!,” said Paul Taylor.
Paul Taylor has inspired audiences with his artistry for more than six decades. He has created 133 dance works and his creativity remains boundless. For tickets and more information about the upcoming season Paul Taylor Dance Company at City Center go online at www.nycitycenter.org or call 212.581.1212.
Paul Taylor Dance Company at City Center Performance Schedule
2/22 Tue 7:00pm Gala: Esplanade, Three Dubious Memories*, Oh, You Kid! (Live music by Rick Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
2/23 Wed 7:00pm The Word, Brief Encounters, Arden Court
2/24 Thu 7:00pm Arden Court, Brief Encounters, Black Tuesday
2/25 Fri 8:00pm Polaris, Phantasmagoria*, Cloven Kingdom
2/26 Sat 3:00pm Polaris, The Word, Also Playing
2/26 Sat 8:00pm Dust, Three Dubious Memories*, Cloven Kingdom
2/27 Sun 3:00pm Polaris, Phantasmagoria*, Cloven Kingdom
2/27 Sun 7:00pm Also Playing, Dust, Esplanade
3/1 Tue 7:00pm Black Tuesday Great Depression Special: Speaking in Tongues, Black Tuesday
3/2 Wed 7:00pm Company B, Phantasmagoria*, Promethean Fire
3/3 Thu 7:00pm Orbs, Promethean Fire
3/4 Fri 8:00pm Speaking in Tongues, Esplanade
3/5 Sat 3:00pm Arden Court, Three Dubious Memories*, Cloven Kingdom
3/5 Sat 8:00pm The Word, Phantasmagoria*, Company B
3/6 Sun 3:00pm Orbs, Company B
3/6 Sun 7:00pm Also Playing, Three Dubious Memories*, Promethean Fire
* New York Premeire
In Photo: 1) Julie Tice and Michelle Fleet* 2) Paul Taylor** 3) James Samson, Robert Kleinedorst, Amy Young, Sean Mahoney * 4) Eran Bugge, Michael Novak, Francisco Graciano, Jamie Rae Walker*
Photo by: * Tom Caravaglia, ** Maxine Hicks