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Paul Taylor
American Modern Dance

Saturday, March 17, 2018 2:00 PM

Location: David H. Koch Theater

Changes

Choreography by Paul Taylor

The 1960s began in a spirit of unbridled optimism, with Americans electing the youngest President ever. That optimism was short-lived, dashed by assassinations, race riots and the nation’s tragic involvement in the Vietnam War. Changes revisits that time through songs of the iconic folk/rock group, The Mamas and The Papas. The opening section reveals snippets of popular dance steps as an announcer introduces the vocal group at a rock concert. After we’re reminded that this was the era of “free love,” the dance grows dark with sections about an impending earthquake, hallucinogenic drugs and the growing radicalization of young people as they defied authority and embraced liberation movements. In a dream sequence, a boy learning from a father figure hurts himself and is comforted by the older man. The dance climaxes with an anthem of the era, “California Dreamin’”, uniting the disillusioned young people. A program note states that while we remember the turbulent ’60s as unique, in fact they were not – 40 years later the country is again involved in an unpopular war amid demands for change, indicating that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Eventide

Choreography by Paul Taylor

“The American spirit soars when Taylor’s dances and dances meet, but rarely has it reached the sublime heights of this piece. It is a paean to remembered love, with couple after couple looking back even as they embrace an unknown future… It is bittersweet but, typical for Taylor, also optimistic and uplifting. An American masterpiece.” – Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle

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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