Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor Dance Company

The world-renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company makes its Winnipeg debut with three powerful works. Hailed as the world’s most important living choreographer, Paul Taylor’s meticulous choreography is inspired by influential themes in modern society - such as war, spirituality, sexuality, and morality – while using his signature youthful, light-hearted and optimistic approach on these themes and exploring the beauty of movement.

Esplanade

An esplanade is an outdoor place to walk; in 1975 Paul Taylor, inspired by the sight of a girl running to catch a bus, created a masterwork based on pedestrian movement. If contemporaries Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg could use ordinary “found objects” like Coke bottles and American flags in their art, Taylor would use such “found movements” as standing, walking, running, sliding and falling. The first of five sections that are set to two Bach violin concertos introduces a team of eight dancers brimming with Taylor’s signature youthful exuberance. An adagio for a family whose members never touch reflects life’s somber side. When three couples engage in romantic interplay, a woman standing tenderly atop her lover’s prone body suggests that love can hurt as well as soothe. The final section has dancers careening fearlessly across the stage like Kamikazes. The littlest of them – the daughter who had not been acknowledged by her family – is left alone on stage, triumphant: the meek inheriting the earth.

“When I left the theater… I was thinking that I’d seen a classic of American dance. It confers a mythic dimension on ordinary aspects of our daily lives – it’s unfaked folk art. The dancers, crashing wave upon wave into those falls, have a happy insane spirit that recalls a unique moment in American life – the time we did the school play or we were ready to drown at a swimming meet. The last time most of us were happy in that way.” – Arlene Croce, The New Yorker

Company B

Just as America began to emerge from the Depression at the dawn of the 1940s, the country was drawn into the Second World War. In a seminal piece of Americana, Paul Taylor recalls that turbulent era through the hit songs of the Andrews Sisters. Although the songs depict a nation surging with high spirits, millions of men were bidding farewell to wives or girlfriends and many would never return from battle. The dance focuses on such poignant dualities. Young lovers lindy, jitterbug and polka in a near manic grasp for happiness while in the background shadowy figures – soldiers – fall dead. Among the sections of the dance, the one choreographed to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)” is carefree until the moment the bugler is shot; the one set to “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” tells of a young lady’s affections for a soldier an ocean away who, for his part, reaches out to a comrade in arms. The dance ends just as it began, with “Bei Mir Bist du Schön” – but the world has clearly changed.

“Evokes the exuberant rhythms of the ’40’s as well as the grim and persistent shadow of war. But even more vividly, it honors Taylor’s magnificent dancers. Some of the most glorious dancing to be seen anywhere…” – Laura Shapiro, Newsweek

Piazzolla Caldera

Neruda wrote of poetry that mirrors “the flawed confusion of human beings,” poetry “worn away as if by acid by the labour of hands, impregnated with sweat and smoke, smelling of lilies and of urine, splashed by the variety of what we do, legally or illegally… as impure as old clothes, as a body, with its foodstains and its shame, with wrinkles, observations, dreams, wakefulness, prophecies, declarations of love and hate, stupidities, shocks, idylls….” He might have been describing the predatory dance that originated in the brothels of Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th Century: tango. The music of tango – with Spanish, Italian, Indian, African and Jewish influences – was taken to new heights by Astor Piazzolla. Without a single authentic tango step, Paul Taylor captures the essence of tango culture. In a dimly lit dive, working class men and women confront each other in sizzling sexual duets and trios: men with women, men with men and women with women. Two men too drunk for conquests perform a loopy dance as lamplights sway dizzily overhead. A woman who has searched desperately for a partner but failed to find one, collapses – as if mortally wounded by a night without passion.

“Stunning. Taylor looks at the attitudes implicit of the tango – as sexual game, as social identity – and reshapes them. Seethes and flares with sexuality and develops a huge erotic charge. One of Taylor’s most astonishing (even for him) creations.” – Clement Crisp, Financial Times of London

RUN TIME
Act 1 - 30 minutes
Intermission - 20 minutes
Act 2 - 22 minutes
Intermission - 20 minutes
Act 3 - 30 minutes
Total Run Time - 2:02

For show information, including pre-show chats, click here.

Synopsis

More Information

Esplanade
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Costumes: John Rawlings
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton

Company B
Music: Songs sung by the Andrews Sisters
Costumes: Santo Loquasto
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton

Piazzolla Caldera
Music: Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky
Set and Costumes: Santo Loquasto
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton