BWW Review: Celebrating American Modern Dance with PAUL TAYLOR AMERICAN MODERN DANCE
On the evening of March 17, 2017, the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance (PTAMD) company continued its spring season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. In 2014, Mr. Taylor expanded his company, then known as the Paul Taylor Dance Company to PTAMD, to create a home for great American modern dance. This is done by presenting dances of the past and present, Mr. Taylor's own repertoire, all alongside new works commissioned by a new generation of choreographers. And this evening's performance showcased that.
The program opened with The Weight of Smoke by award-winning choreographer Doug Elkins performed to an original score by Justin Levine and Matt Stine. Elkins brings his background as a break dancer to the concert stage. It's a contemporary piece that is no doubt a classic. I loved the fusion of different hip hop moves from breaking, waving, and voguing. I also appreciated the music- the mixture of violins, record scratching, with a hint of familiar sounds of the NYC transit system. The dancers were amazing as they moved effortlessly across the stage. I loved the partner work and the use of weight sharing. Elkins truly showed why he is one of the greatest choreographers of the 21st century!
Next featured the NY premiere of Mr. Taylor's latest work, The Open Door. Performed to live music by the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the piece features a host and his guests for an elegant gathering. Each dancer had a distinct character- some being very comedic, as you could hear the laughter throughout the theater. It was interesting to see how Mr. Taylor's choreography has evolved. It was beautiful, cute, and inventive. It showed how he is always pushing the boundaries of what dance is and can look like.
The evening concluded with the Taylor classic Brandenburgs, also performed to live music by the Orchestra of St. Luke's. I love this piece, and have for a long time. This was the one I was waiting for the entire time. The dancers were just stunning as they moved with ease and have strong technique in the Taylor style. You couldn't take your eyes off the stage. This was a reminder of why Mr. Taylor is one of the great American dancers and choreographers of all time.
With the threats to eliminate federal funding for the arts and culture, it is important to note that support for these pieces, the company, and the dance field at large, was made possible through funding by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The arts, culture, and the humanities showcase who we are as a society, as a people. Defunding such federal agencies, like the NEA, would not allow artists such as PTAMD to feature what it is that makes our country so great. I truly thank the NEA for their financial support of artists to create work such as what was seen tonight, over the last 50 years. I also thank Paul Taylor and the PTAMD for creating classics, like Brandenburgs, to newer works, like The Weight of Smoke and The Open Door, and for making a platform to create and preserve American modern dance.
Photo Credit: Paul B. Goode