American modern dance visionary Paul Taylor was revered for his uncommon, unconventional musicality: “I had no musical training. … Now, when I’m working with a piece of music, I count it in my own way, not as a musician would,” he said in a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune.
Harmoniously, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will close its inaugural residency at Chautauqua Institution with a melodic collaboration, joined by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Amphitheater.
Taylor founded Paul Taylor Dance Company in 1954, choreographing over 140 pieces until his death in the summer of 2018. The company’s residency at Chautauqua is a stop on its one-year tour commemorating Taylor’s life and legacy.
“Paul Taylor Dance Company is literally one of the most important ballet companies in the United States, and for me, it’s an incredible privilege to be able to provide the music for them, and for Chautauqua to have a company of that caliber on the line-up,” said Rossen Milanov, CSO conductor and music director.
The night will open with “Concertiana,” Taylor’s final work completed just before his death. The piece contrasts agitated, dynamic solos and duets with slower, simplistic silhouettes.
“Concertiana” is danced to “Concerto for Violin and Strings” by Eric Ewazen, a contemporary American composer whose works have been played in orchestra halls and on festival grounds — notably Woodstock — alike.
CSO violinist Krista Bennion Feeney will perform as a soloist in “Concertiana.” Feeney is a concertmaster for both the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
Taylor choreographed “Dust” — the second of the three-piece bill — for a friend who was deaf and mute. Set to 20th-century French composer Francis Poulenc’s “Concert Champêtre,” “Dust” illuminates mankind’s ability “to transcend all manner of physical and emotional disabilities,” said a Paul Taylor Dance Company spokesperson.
“ ‘Dust’ is a dark and twisted piece, both physically and emotionally,” said company dancer Robert Kleinendorst. “It is one of (Taylor’s) more physically demanding pieces.”
“Concert Champêtre” is a concerto for harpsichord and orchestra. In tonight’s concert, University of Kentucky professor of organ and CSO harpsichordist Schuyler Robinson will perform as the soloist in “Concert Champêtre.” Robinson has toured extensively both domestically and abroad.
The final piece, “Promethean Fire,” was created in the wake of 9/11, with Leopold Stokowski’s turn-of-the-century rearrangement of works by Johann Sebastian Bach.
“It is an architectural dance using pattern, space and time to its utmost,” Kleinendorst said. “This piece is at once dark, passionate and ultimately hopeful.”
Throughout the week, Paul Taylor Dance Company members and Taylor 2 — the traveling company — have hosted Special Studies for both dancers and non-dancers, and open rehearsals, culminating in Wednesday’s and Saturday’s performances.
The Chautauqua Dance Circle will host a dance preview with the Paul Taylor Dance Company at 7 p.m. Saturday in Smith Wilkes Hall, prior to the company’s 8:15 p.m. Amp performance.