GO: Paul Taylor at City Center (Updated Saturday)

Okay, I admit it, I have mixed feelings about the two dreamscape premieres: there are moments when Taylor achieves an impressive surreality and other times when the dance devolves into a series of discrete shards. But I do think he’s experimenting with new ways to put a dance together–impressive for anyone, but especially someone who’s been at this business for more than 50 years. And the New York City Center season offers 17 other dances as well.
I don’t know a choreographer who catches the emotional tone of the music he’s chosen– without reflection, without you feeling the choices, so it seems even more inevitable than with Balanchine or Morris. (I’d have to write a bunch of lists to be sure about that, but I feel sure about it, at least.) As a friend of mine once said, “This is what ballet would be without the affectations.” Taylor’s works are beautifully, solidly put together and often complex in their shadings under the dominant color. The cliche about him is that he works in Manichean opposites: all dark or all sunny. What then to do with “Promethean Fire”? While there ARE very dark pieces, melancholy runs under even the joyous ones (for example, “Aureole”).
Here are several dances on the top of my list (and I haven’t seen everything, if you’re wondering about certain obvious omissions): “Arden Court,” “Aureole,” “Cloven Kingdom,” “Musical Offering,” “Black Tuesday,” “Esplanade,” and “Promethean Fire.” (Taylor loves Baroque composers, and I love what he does with them.) I’ve also heard about “Diggity” (with the Alex Katz cut-out dogs) for years, and am eager to see it. (Actually–I just remembered!–I DID see it: probably the year it premiered, when I was 14, at Zellerbach in Berkeley in 1978. I remember Caroline Adams doing an attitude to the back, facing the wings, that came from the deepest, darkest part of her spine. But I don’t think it was in “Diggity.” I do remember the dogs and I think I remember people hopping over them–the humans galumphing and the dogs staying perfectly still.)
If I could only go to a few performances, I guess I’d choose from among these dates: Friday February 29; Saturday March 1, evening or matinee; Wednesday March 5; Thursday March 6; Wednesday March 12; Thursday March 13; Saturday March 15 matinee or night; Sunday March 16.
Or you could go to everything Michael Trusnovec is in! Here’s a profile I wrote on him for Newsday. (Check out the slide show, on the box down to the left of the story.) Trusnovec’s a deer! (Gong) And he’ll be hard to miss: big roles in “Musical Offering,” “Black Tuesday,” “Promethean Fire,” “Counterswarm” and both premieres. He’s also in “Arden Court” and “Esplanade.” I can’t remember if he’s in “Cloven Kingdom” this year.
The season continues through March 16.
Here is Paul Taylor himself on why he makes dances. Touching–a bit wrenching, in fact, in its plainspoken way.

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  1. says

    wow. I’m catching up late as usual but thanks for the link to PT’s “why” statement.
    I’ve been thinking recently that the answer to the question “why” is a “what” – an image, or an action — and that the big existential “why” as an individual is embedded in early childhood images makes much sense to me. Go, PT.
    I was also struck by his ad page for this season: woman with golden halo center, horned man to the right, devil/jokester to the right. He doth speak plainly indeed.
    Apollinaire responds: Thanks for writing, Clare.

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