BWW Reviews: Paul Taylor Celebrates Diamond Anniversary Season at Lincoln Center
Attending an homage to Paul Taylor's artistry was an unforgettable experience. The pageantry behind the show, combined with Paul Taylor's expertise, created remarkable moments. This was on display in the recent presentations of Byzantium, Marathon Cadenzas, and Funny Papers. Despite the self-effacing vibe Paul Taylor is known for portraying, his work drips with thoughtfulness and intellect.
The opening piece, Byzantium, displays a culture beyond imagination. The stage and costumes are lavish and centered on gold and draping fabric. The choreography is angular and sharp at times, yet at other segments of the piece, it provides distinct symmetry while the dancers gather to create breath taking poses. Additionally, the cast showed a great physicality with their movement throughout Byzantium. Although this piece seemed relatively hard to follow, the main theme of an empire rising and falling was terrifically represented. This performance debuted in 1984 (almost to the exact day!) and provided us with a look into Paul Taylor's earlier work before the audience was exposed to the new world premier that immediately followed, Marathon Cadenzas.
This was a long piece set to jazz music from the 1930's era. The premise of this piece was a dance marathon during The Depression. The dancers really honed in on their acting skills to make the audience feel the pursuit of fun during such dark times. Throughout the dance marathon, themes of fear and exhaustion overwhelm the performance. Perhaps Mr. Taylor wanted to depict the general feeling of our nation at the time, but his motifs can relate to political and economic struggles that we currently have. While this is a brand new creation, it is clearly a timeless piece.
The show concluded on a high note with Funny Papers. This finale used quirky and familiar music that paired well with the dancers' ironic costumes and cheerful choreography. The dance troop was adorned in black and white body suites as they varied between solos, duets, group numbers, and full cast sections that gave life to long-standing comic strips. Overall, Funny Papers was the most entertaining of this particular show and had the audience engaged from the moment it started.
The great thing about Paul Taylor's repertoire is that each dance is enriched with history and each piece has the ability to transport the audience to a different time under different circumstances. While the show was brilliant, the true highlight was when Paul Taylor, at age 83, graced the stage with his presence for a closing bow. He justly portrays the American dream as a master of modern dance.