Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
A tribute to its late founder, the lineup includes dances that haven't been seen in decades, and farewell performances by four longtime company members
Paul Taylor American Modern Dance leaps into autumn with its first-ever fall (as opposed to spring) season at Lincoln Center, running October 29 to November 17. Curated by newly minted artistic director Michael Novak, who was selected by Taylor shortly before his death last year, the lineup includes an intriguing variety of classics and newer works, as well as some notable goodbyes.
A company member since 2010, Novak now has the responsibility of keeping Taylor's legacy alive. Given the exciting array and diverse musical choices of the late choreographer's repertory, Novak has an abundance of riches (nearly 150 pieces!) to work with.
Taylor's incredible range and longevity are on display in the dances Novak has programmed this fall. There is Taylor's final work, 2018's reflective Concertiana, as well as four from the 1960s when he was emerging as a distinctive voice in modern dance. The lyrical Aureole, created in 1962 when Taylor was still dancing for Martha Graham, signaled his independence from her heavy-breathing, dramatic style. Also on the schedule are the lesser seen Scudorama from 1963, in which the dancing is intentionally earthbound and awkward; 1969's Private Domain, which explores voyeurism and exhibitionism; and Post Meridian, an obscure 1965 dance set to a score for magnetic tape that was last performed 30 years ago.
Taylor really hit his stride during the 1970s and 1980s, producing two premieres annually. Some were dark and disturbing, none more so than Last Look, a 1985 masterwork that depicts an apocalyptic society and retains its power to unnerve. Dust, from 1977, explores loss of mobility. Other works were rapturous, such as 1983's Sunset, featuring soldiers flirting with young women in a park to the sounds of Edward Elgar and recorded loon calls. All will be performed this fall.
In 1991, Taylor found inspiration in the boogie-woogie harmonies of The Andrews Sisters, creating Company B, which layers reverberations of loss and regret within evocations of popular 1940s dances. The songs will be performed live by the vibrant vocal trio Duchess.
A one-night-only ICONS program on November 11 celebrates Taylor's longtime collaboration with visual artist Alex Katz, who designed costumes and a handful of highly distinctive sets. A highlight is the lighthearted Diggity, for which Katz created an obstacle course of small dog sculptures that the dancers happily navigate.
Five years ago, as he contemplated a future without him, Taylor began adding works by other choreographers to his troupe's repertoire. These included preexisting creations as well as new works from the next generation of dance-makers. Three commissions are included this season: recent pieces by Pam Tanowitz and Margie Gillis, and a world premiere by Kyle Abraham. The Taylor company members have revealed new aspects of their personalities and talents in these fresh, mostly ensemble dances.
This transitional year, perhaps inevitably, is also prompting changes in the roster. In June, the company announced that seven longtime leading dancers would be leaving. Two, Michael Trusnovec and Laura Halzack, bid adieu when the troupe performed all six of Taylor's works set to Bach over the summer. This fall marks the final New York performances for Robert Kleinendorst, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney and Jamie Rae Walker, five company veterans whose collective tenure totals 78 years! These performers are steeped in Taylor's robustly athletic style and possess extensive experience dancing his work. Seeing their farewell performances, along with the company's celebration of its founder's legacy, are compelling reasons to catch Paul Taylor American Modern Dance this season.
Susan Reiter regularly covers dance for TDF Stages.
Top image: Christina Lynch Markham and Sean Mahoney in Paul Taylor American Modern Dance's Concertiana. Photo by Paul B. Goode.