Paul Taylor Dance Co. Performs at Jones Hall Tonight

Paul Taylor Dance Co. Performs at Jones Hall Tonight

Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to Houston for the first time in 10 years tonight, Oct. 12, at 8 p.m. in Jones Hall, presented by the Society for the Performing Arts.

For nearly 60 years the unrivaled genius of Paul Taylor has delighted audiences and established him as one of the greatest cultural icons in dance history. The last living member of the pantheon that created America's indigenous art of modern dance, Taylor continues to showcase dance with his vibrancy and power.

While in Houston, Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform three of Taylor's signature works: Airs, with music by G. F. Handel; Sunset with music by Edward Elgar; and Esplanade with music by Johann Sebastian Bach. The music for each piece will be performed live by Mercury, the orchestra redefined.

Paul Taylor first presented his choreography with five other dancers in Manhattan on May 30, 1954. That modest performance marked the beginning of a half-century of unrivaled creativity. In the five decades that have followed, he has become a cultural icon hailed for his choreographic genius. While he may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, he more frequently uses them to illuminate such profound issues as war, piety, spirituality, morality and mortality.

Since 1954, Taylor has made 139 dances, many of which have attained iconic status. He has covered a breathtaking range of topics, but recurring themes include life and death; the natural world and man's place within it; love and sexuality in all gender combinations; and iconic moments in American history.

Paul Taylor has received nearly every important honor given to artists in the United States including the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors, an Emmy Award, a National Medal of Arts, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the New York State Governor's Arts Award, the New York City Mayor's Award of Honor for Art and Culture and others.

Musical group Mercury, the orchestra redefined, was an idea that came to fruition after a gathering over pizza in the Montrose area of Houston. Antoine Plante, Jonathan Godfrey, Ana Treviño-Godfrey and Lori Muratta were inspired to enchant and educate Houston audiences with a broad repertoire of music on period instruments, resulting in Mercury Baroque, an intimate chamber ensemble. Today, the group has blossomed into a chamber orchestra playing music from the baroque area and beyond, reaching out to Houston audiences and even garnering critical acclaim worldwide. The orchestra performs more than 50 concerts each year, including its flagship series at the Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, and concert venues in neighborhoods throughout the city, along with chamber music performances in more intimate settings.

Part of SPA's Tudor Family Great American Dance Series, this performance of Paul Taylor Dance Company is generously sponsored by Reliant, United Airlines, BMC Software, H-E-B, Locke Lord, Houstonian Lite and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Tickets range from $25-$85 and can be purchased online at www.spahouston.org, by phone at 713-227-4SPA or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana St. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday. For groups of 15 or more call 713-632-8113.