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Paul Taylor
American Modern Dance

Friday, March 9, 2018 8:00 PM

Location: David H. Koch Theater

Musical Offering

Choreography by Paul Taylor  |  Music by Johann Sebastian Bach

In 1747, Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, asked J.S. Bach to compose a fugue based on the king’s own music; Bach responded with A Musical Offering, built entirely on that “excellently beautiful” royal theme. Some 240 years later, unfazed by how revered Bach’s final chamber work had become, Paul Taylor used it as the score for one of his most profound dances: a requiem. A woman whose life is being celebrated introduces the work’s movement vocabulary, the primitive look of which was inspired by wood sculptures from New Guinea. The ensemble mourns her imminent passing by rocking, their arms crossed at times in the ancient burial pose. In the poignant climactic duet, the woman’s partner tries desperately to prevent her leave-taking. A final glorious lift propels her ascent to the afterlife.

Gossamer Gallants

Choreography by Paul Taylor

With movement inspired by blue-bottle flies, dragonflies and other insects, the comedic dance compares mating rituals of the insect world with that of humans. Male insects become aroused by females, who they begin to court. But the females prove to be predatory partners that do in their suitors.

Piazzolla Caldera

Choreography by Paul Taylor

Neruda wrote of poetry that mirrors “the flawed confusion of human beings,” poetry “worn away as if by acid by the labor of hands, impregnated with sweat and smoke, smelling of lilies and of urine, splashed by the variety of what we do, legally or illegally… as impure as old clothes, as a body, with its foodstains and its shame, with wrinkles, observations, dreams, wakefulness, prophecies, declarations of love and hate, stupidities, shocks, idylls….”  He might have been describing the predatory dance that originated in the brothels of Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th Century: tango. The music of tango – with Spanish, Italian, Indian, African and Jewish influences – was taken to new heights by Astor Piazzolla.  Without a single authentic tango step, Paul Taylor captures the essence of tango culture. In a dimly lit dive, working class men and women confront each other in sizzling sexual duets and trios: men with women, men with men and women with women. Two men too drunk for conquests perform a loopy dance as lamplights sway dizzily overhead.  A woman who has searched desperately for a partner but failed to find one, collapses – as if mortally wounded by a night without passion.

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