Paul Taylor is widely considered to be one of the foremost American choreographers of the 20th century. Paul Taylor is among the last living members of the second generation of America’s modern dance artists. He has continued to win acclaim for his recent creations as well as stagings of his earlier works. As prolific as ever, he may propel his dancers through space for the sheer beauty of it, or use them to wordlessly illuminate war, spirituality, sexuality, morality and mortality. This program recorded in 2012 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris is composed of two ballets.
First performed in 1988 to music from Bach’s Brandenburg concertos #3 and #6. “Brandenburgs” is cast for a man and three women, plus an ensemble of five men. In an unusual stroke for Taylor, he uses the male quintet as a proper corps de ballet – that is, they frame the action and move only as a group, anonymously. The sharp hierarchical distinction between soloists and ensemble accounts for one aspect of the dance’s classical feel. More important, though, is the ensemble’s attitude toward the soloists.
Music: Johann-Sebastian Bach – opus 88 (1988)
Set to Francis Poulenc’s choral “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.”
Music: Francis Poulenc – Opus 129 (2008)
Choreography : Paul Taylor
Costumes : Santo Loquasto
Lighting design : Jennifer Tipton