The Paul Taylor Dance Company opened its second season at Lincoln Center with a gala performance. For once it wasn’t the usual “best-of” compilation, but a typically eccentric Paul Taylor quadruple bill. You can read my review here.
And here is a short excerpt:
“The surprise of the evening (for me) was the closer, Offenbach Overtures (1995). The last time I saw this dance, several years back, it struck me as forced and cartoonish. This time it won me over completely. Has it changed or have I? Set to appealing Offenbach polkas and waltzes and costumed (by Loquasto) in simplified versions of soldier uniforms (including mustaches) and chorine outfits straight out of Toulouse Lautrec (all red), the piece pokes fun at ballet, at puffed-up nineteenth-century European conventions, at operetta, at heterosexual coupling.”
Marina, I’d like to comment on something from your review in the Nation, your comments on succession. Where can I send it? Thanks for your work.
Of course. You can respond here on the blog, or or here: http://www.thenation.com/web-letters/add/169891?destination=node%2F169891
Marina, just to briefly comment on this section of your Paul Taylor commentary:
“Choreographers are notoriously diffident about the future. “I don’t care frankly,” Taylor told the Times in 2007. “I won’t be here to see the dances which I enjoy, so what does it matter to me?” He doesn’t seem to be grooming an heir within the company’s ranks, someone who would continue his legacy while also adding new dances to the repertory. (There once was someone, Christopher Gillis, but he died of AIDS in 1993, at 42.) In the absence of such a figure, John Tomlinson, the company’s executive director, told me that Taylor has determined “the board of directors will decide the future of the company” after his death. Should the board decide to keep the troupe going (its current intention), it will select Taylor’s successor with the help of an artistic committee (whose composition has not been revealed). It is also Taylor’s wish that the troupe should become a repertory company doing new works in addition to his own and, possibly, the works of other modern dance masters, such as José Limón and Doris Humphrey and even Martha Graham. However, this is just “one possibility” among many. Others may yet be entertained, but there is a basic structure in place for the company’s continuance and, it seems, the will for it to go on.”
Back in those days I and a few other NYCB fan(atic)s/volunteers went as often as possible to Paul Taylor (some of us as volunteers there, too — free tickets!).
There was a point, in the late 80’s, near the height of the AIDS plague, when Taylor not only had Gillis do some choreography, but David Parsons, and a third dancer, Kenneth Tosti. I’ve attached a segment of one response by Kisselgoff.
Of course, we were buzzing with excitement (and worry) about the meaning of Taylor’s presenting (during his seasons) new choreography by his own dancers. One season, he had a delightful autobiographic dancer’s goodbye by Linda Kent, who climbed out of a suitcase. I don’t remember if he had any other pieces by women.
Of the three men, even though I was a Chris Gillis devotee, I felt Ken Tosti’s piece was the best. So did Kisselgoff. But whispers, just whispers. of antagonism between the dancers and Taylor started buzzing around. Parsons left to form his own Company, which I never thought was worth much admiration, Tosti vanished from the scene, and Gillis, one of the most beautiful dancers on this side of heaven, went to the other side. His sister, Margie, came down to NYC to participate in the memorial performance. Taylor seemed to withdraw after that sad loss, but he never said anything to the public.
By the way, the comment about Taylor’s Board of Directors is very reminiscent of Mr. Balanchine’s under the same circumstances: “Après moi, le Board.”
By ANNA KISSELGOFF
Published: April 25, 1987
Beginner’s luck? Kenneth Tosti, a leading dancer in the Paul Taylor Dance Company, had never choreographed anything before ”Diary of a Fly,” which had hundreds cheering following its premiere Thursday night.
In an unusual move for a major modern-dance choreographer, Mr. Taylor has asked four members of his troupe to create solos for his company’s season at the City Center, 131 West 55th Street. The only proviso was that the length not exceed five minutes.
It is a risky experiment for relatively new or novice choreographers to be framed by the works of a master. This third program of the season, for instance, also included three Taylor pieces – ”Roses,” ”Dust” and ”Airs.”
Mr. Tosti, however, threw caution to the winds. Success crowned his achievement and originality marked its every moment. ”Diary of a Fly” is terrific for what it is – a movement essay that is a polished and complete little work in itself. If it foreshadows what the other solos will be like, this particular Taylor season is going to be spiced with extra fun and surprises.
Dear Seyna, thank you so much for this. Really fascinating to see he was thinking this way at the time. What will happen now, nobody knows…