Letting Taylor: A New Era Lead Us Into the Future | Playbill

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Classic Arts Features Letting Taylor: A New Era Lead Us Into the Future

Paul Taylor Dance Company opens its 2022 New York season November 1 at Lincoln Center.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paul Taylor’s Esplanade
Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paul Taylor’s Esplanade Steven Pisano

Most of the time, we don’t get to ease on through the doorway to a new world. Instead, we are flung down unknown roads—either by catastrophe, or if we’re lucky, by coincidence. But every once in a while, something will come along to show us a slower, sunnier path. This November, Paul Taylor Dance Company (PTDC) offers audiences the chance to dance their way into the future—and to let the company lead the way. It’s time for Taylor: A New Era.

Lincoln Center bursts open November 1 with a night of Taylor’s masterworks: Diggity (1978), Scudorama (1963), and Esplanade (1975). When you attend a Taylor performance, take note of how you feel after each one—you may find that you begin to see the art of dance in a whole new way.

It will come as no surprise that these past few years have marked a time of transition for the company. This is their first time back to the David H. Koch Theater—the home of their annual residencies—since 2019. But the changes began even before the pandemic; several months after appointing company member Michael Novak as PTDC’s new artistic director, Taylor himself passed away in summer of 2018. You can imagine: if there is any group that understands how the world has had to adapt over the last few years, it’s Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The company serves as the perfect role model for resilience. They emerge triumphant from these changing times, having flourished despite zoom rehearsals and closed theatres. And they arrive on stage with new commissions by women leading the art form, and with a new look at Taylor’s brilliance.

This fall, dance is a feast for more than just the eyes. Much of the season is devoted to the Moving Music series: three spectacular programs, where the dancers share the stage with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (OSL). Not only will OSL offer live accompaniment, but they will also enjoy their own moment in the spotlight: between two acts of dance, the audience will enjoy an act focused entirely on music.

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table
Paul Taylor Dance Company in Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table Ron Thiele

For Menagerie Matinee (November 5), Gossamer Gallants and Diggity are paired with Prokofiev’s “Peter & the Wolf,” which will be narrated by Vanessa Williams. For American Rhapsody (November 6 and 8), Company B and Larry Keigwin’s Rush Hour surround Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue." And for ICONS (November 10 and 12), Taylor’s Arden Court and Kurt Jooss’s legendary The Green Table meet their match with Philip Glass’s Suite from “The Hours.”

The alchemy of the music and dance together elevate the performances to a new level of transcendence. Of course, this magic is always happening within each dance piece itself—often invisibly—but the show structure will highlight the special relationship between these two art forms. Even those who’ve seen or heard these works before will be able to find something new in them; something unlocked by the power of collaboration.

Taylor often incorporated this power into his process, making space for one medium of art to meet another. Taylor is well-known for his artistic partnership with painter Alex Katz, which led to the production of sixteen unforgettable dances. On November 9, audiences are treated to a one-night performance of four of them: Polaris, Scudorama, Sunset, and Diggity.

In the same way that the music of OSL brings to life new elements in Taylor’s most famous dances, the stillness of the visual art offers the perfect contrast to bodies in motion. Taylor: A New Era reminds us that opposing forces are not necessarily an obstacle in art—they are often its greatest asset.

As well as reintroducing Taylor’s oeuvre, Paul Taylor Dance Company will showcase new choreography, new ideas, and new talent. The season will feature a world premieres from resident choreographer Lauren Lovette (November 2, 5, and 12), and a world premiere from commissioned choreographer Amy Hall Garner (November 3 and 11).

Michael Novak, Lauren Lovette, and Amy Hall Garner
Michael Novak, Lauren Lovette, and Amy Hall Garner Ruven Afanador

Lovette is the company’s first-ever resident choreographer. Appointed by Novak, she will work with Paul Taylor Dance Company for a period of five years, developing new dances. And though she may seem like a surprising choice for the position—Lovette was a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet where she began her career as a choreographer—her selection is once again evidence of PTDC’s ample wisdom, and their ability to adapt.

Much like the music of OSL, or the art of Alex Katz, Lovette’s varied experience is a superpower of the company; a reminder that the future of modern dance is undefined, and unlimited. Lovette’s voice—and the voice of other commissioned choreographers, like Garner—will infuse the company with fresh energy for years to come. These world premieres are the first dazzling taste of what the next chapter of Paul Taylor Dance Company could look like.

With Taylor: A New Era, Paul Taylor Dance Company will guide us towards a future that is open to any and all possibilities; a future that has been strengthened by the challenges of the past. In this new world, all perspectives are welcome, and different mediums of art can work together to build something brighter than ever before.

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Paul Taylor Dance Company Ruven Afanador

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer at Dandelion Chandelier. A lifelong New Yorker, she loves telling stories about theatre, dance, books, films, and human beings.

 
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