Great Performances: Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paris

(Rochester, New York) -- The world-renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company has set the global standard for contemporary dance excellence. Since the company's founding in 1954, Mr. Taylor has choreographed 136 dances, many of which have attained iconic status and have been celebrated throughout the world. Great Performances presents Mr. Taylor's masterworks in Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paris, airing Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2:30 PM on WXXI-TV. The dances were recorded last year at the Théâtre National de Chaillot at the Festival Les Étes de la Danse 2012, where the company – a Paris favorite – dazzled audiences. The engagement in Paris marks The Company’s 50th Anniversary of its first appearance there  in 1962.

Brandenburgs, first performed in 1988 to music from Bach’s Brandenburg concertos #3 and #6; and his 2008 dance Beloved Renegade, set to music from Francis Poulenc’s Gloria, are the featured pieces. It is one of Taylor’s magnificent collection of works set to music by a master of the baroque. The dance’s exuberance matches the ferocious energy of Bach’s spirited concertos. Mary Clarke of the Manchester [UK] Guardian wrote, “Beauty is the only word for… [which] celebrates the good things in life. Such a radiant, seamless flow of invention that the choreography seems an entirely natural way of moving to this music.”

Beloved Renegade is set to Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria.”  The dance was inspired by the life and work of 19th Century American writer Walt Whitman, who revered the body and soul as one and who famously loved all with equal ardor. It depicts the experiences of an artist described in a line from Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: “I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the soul.”

Scenes from Whitman’s life include watching youngsters at play, and tending to the afflicted just as the poet nursed wounded soldiers during the Civil War. After his own mortality is foretold, the poet bids poignant farewell to those who love him. He is then embraced by a benevolent feminine spirit with “the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.”

Reviewing the Gallic season, Clement Crisp in The Financial Times of London declared Beloved Renegade an “astonishment,” praising lead dancer Michael Trusnovec for “a performance of noblest clarity” and noting “the magnificence of the company’s dancing.”

As prolific as ever, Taylor continues to offer cogent observations on life’s complexities while tackling some of society’s thorniest issues. He propels his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, or uses them to wordlessly illuminate war, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality.

Pictured: Paul Taylor Dance Company. Sean Mahoney, Michael Trusnovec, James Samson, Michael Apuzzo, Robert Kleinendorst, Jeffrey Smith (L-R) in “Brandenburgs.”
Credit: Courtesy of Paul B. Goode




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