CriticalDance Forum

Paul Taylor in London 2000
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Nov 02, 2000 11:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Paul Taylor in London 2000

At 70, Paul Taylor, the 'most successful' modern-dance choreographer ever, is still going strong. Nadine Meisner interviews the great man as his Company prepare to come to Sadler's Wells. He tells a nice story:
The Paul Taylor Dance Company's last visit was 10 years ago, when the Queen came and tapped the Royal finger in time to Company B, the season's hit, set to the wartime songs of the Andrews Sisters. Taylor, who was in attendance, has a couple of good stories about that occasion, including the moment, when preparing for the Queen to sit next to him, he gallantly held down her Sadler's Wells tip-up seat, only to find a catastrophic mistiming caused the Royal bottom actually to sit on his hand.
now read on

There is also a discussion about the London visit here:

<small>[ 22 January 2003, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Nov 09, 2000 2:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Debra Craine appreciates a rare British sighting of the dynamic Paul Taylor Company and reckons that they score two hits out of three.

IF THERE is one American choreographer who is sorely under-represented in Britain, it has to be Paul Taylor. He is one of the two or three dominant figures on the US modern dance scene and his 16 dancers travel the world as cultural ambassadors. Yet while fellow Americans Merce Cunningham and Mark Morris have courted a British audience, Taylor and his company have not, and his last visit here was nine years ago. So this Taylor week at Sadler’s Wells, which opened on Tuesday, is both special and long overdue.
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Judith Mackrell in The Guardian also gets a real buzz from the Paul Taylor Company:

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<small>[ 22 January 2003, 10:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  trina [ Thu Nov 09, 2000 9:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Stuart--I love that story about Paul Taylor and the Queen. It sounds like a Monty Python sketch!! Pretty good!<BR>Surpised to hear that PT has not performed in England in ten!! I wonder why?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Nov 10, 2000 12:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Clement Crisp in The FT tells us:

For 40 years, Paul Taylor's choreography has been a beacon in the ever-darkening world of dance. Here is a creator - and in earlier years a superlative dancer - whose work affirms ideals of human dignity, looks with cool compassion on the bleakness of human failings, laughs at the caprices of human folly. That he is a choreographic genius I have no doubt. Now, after an inexcusable decade away from London, he has brought his dance company to Sadler's Wells for this week, and I urge you to see the troupe.
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<small>[ 22 January 2003, 10:32 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Nov 12, 2000 2:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Jann Parry in ‘The Observer’ loves the Paul Taylor Company:<P> <A HREF=",6903,396089,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,6903,396089,00.html</A> <P><BR>David Dougill in The Sunday Times has more caveats , but is still enchanted:<P> <A HREF=",6903,396089,00.html" TARGET=_blank>,6903,396089,00.html</A> <BR>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 1:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

As the reviews indicate, the Paul Taylor Company was very well received in London. The evening was also very enjoyable for me, with my main caveat that Lisa Viola had too much to do and seemed to be taking things carefully in the first work, perhaps aware that a long evening lay ahead of her. <P>One of the points I noticed from the start was that some of the most enthusiastic internet reports were from ballet fans who often dislike modern dance. As with many UK dance lovers, I have seen few of his works as his Company has not been here for 9 years. Indeed, the first Paul Taylor work I saw was Rambert's production of 'Airs'. I found it a lovely, lyrical work that was the most ballet-like of any that I had seen Rambert perform. <P>Last week's London performances had the same effect on me. 'Cascade' is similar in mood to 'Airs'. 'Sacre de Printemps' is great fun and returns repeatedly to motifs which are a pastiche of Les Ballets Russes. The final work, 'Piazzola Caldera', is a sparky, sexy piece with delicious girls in stockings, which would have fitted in very well into London City Ballet's Latin programme of last year. <P>Further, the format of the evening was very much like an evening at the ballet. We saw a triple bill with Lisa Viola taking the lead in all 3 works and stepping forward last after each piece, very much in the manner of ballet, rather than modern dance, where ensemble and a relatively unhierarchical structure applies. <P>Taylor is clear that the language he uses is modern dance and told one interviewer that his work can be performed by ballet companies but will look different. Nevertheless, I am left with the impression of an evening that had a much stronger ballet feel to it than that when I saw Ballett Frankfurt, who seem clear that they are a ballet company. <P>I can't think of a similar style to the Taylor company in the UK. I've sometimes recommended The Richard Alston Company to ballet lovers looking for some modern dance to see, because of its lyrical quality, but the work is more clearly modern to me than the few Paul Taylor pieces I have seen. <P>Am I missing the point here? 'Not for the first time,' I hear legions cry! What do others think about this aspect of the Company?<P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 16, 2000).]

Author:  trina [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Stuart---point well taken by me. Remember, the Taylor dancers you see today ARE most definetly not the same Taylor dancers-in both "look" and training, that you would have seen 10 or 20 years ago. The former dancers (the company I saw in 1975 for example) were extremely muscular, athletic,and especially the men, almost muscle-bound. They looked like football players! Remember Paul Taylor himself was a competitive swimmer in college before discovering dance. Most Taylor dancers today, if not all American dancers I know, are HEAVILY ballet trained, much more so than in the past. This gives a certain "lightness", rather than "weighhted earthiness" to their dancing. To my mind, the works lool quite different today. I must admit, quite nonestly, that I prefer the former aesthetic. But, we can't stand still in this world, time marches on!

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 11:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Trina, are you saying they were built like wrestlers? Image

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

I saw this same program a year or so ago. And I agree with Trina's comments regarding the shift (particularly in the U.S.) in the training -- from dancers who were trained exclusively in the technique of one modern dance choreographer to the sort of universal dance training that is heavily weighted toward ballet. A look at the biographies of the dancers in the Taylor (and the Cunningham) company reveals that virtually everyone there has a very solid background in ballet. This was not the case 20 years ago. And I believe that Taylor's aesthetic has shifted to take advantage of the strengths with which he is presented by the dancers in the company. Perhaps even unconsciously. I happen to be a tremendous fan of his work and never miss the opportunity to see the company whenever they are here. I don't know whether that pigeonholes me in the camp of a ballet aficionado who seeks out "balletic" modern dance or not. (I would, of course, argue *not* -- but, perhaps I'm less than completely objective.) What is missing in modern dance (from the days when Martha's acolytes worshiped at none but Martha's altar...and Taylor and Cunningham are two of the most important heirs to that tradition who are still working today) is immersion in rigorous training whose end product is to produce the perfect Graham (or Taylor or Cunningham) dancer. It is far from coincidence that Martha's classes were structured around movement drawn directly from her choreography. Economics now enters the picture. Dancers choose training paths that provide them with the widest possible range of adaptability. They want to ensure their employability as opportunities arise. They don't want to be typecast and limited.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Nov 16, 2000 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

A side note: Taylor and Balanchine offer the opportunity to explore different treatment of the same music. Compare and contrast Balanchine's Concerto Barocco with Taylor's Esplanade.<P>Balanchine once offered Taylor the opportunity to join NYCB...a partial outgrowth of the one-shot collaboration between Balanchine and Graham on Episodes. (Balanchine worked Taylor, from the Graham company, into his section; Graham worked NYCB performers into her section. The collaboration had a heavily qualified outcome and was never repeated.) Taylor turned Mr. B. down. It is interesting to speculate on how things might have been different had he responded affirmatively, however.<P>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Nov 17, 2000 1:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Francis, I take your point. I think that there is greater differentiation between ballet and modern in the UK. The Laban Centre and London Contemporary Dance Theatre provide an annual flow of graduate professional modern dance trained performers into the UK market, which provides the backbone of the pool which the UK companies use. I'm over-simplifying, but by and large the dance courses at the conventional Universities do not produce professional dancers. <P>I have also noted the number of ballet trained dancers that US companies use. Ballet dancers are great for speedy foot work, which is perhaps why Twyla Tharp is so smitten with them. <P>I have to say that I think there is room for a variety of approaches, especially when the end product is as good as that from Paul Taylor.

Author:  trina [ Fri Nov 17, 2000 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Paul Taylor in London 2000

Azlan---oh least I didn't come out and say "like wrestlers", but "football players". But of course in England, football is really "soccer" and...oh gosh, now I'm getting really confused with all my sports analogies!!!

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