In a week on extraordinary gifts, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will fittingly grace the stage to celebrate the company’s legacy.
The American modern-dance mecca — founded by visionary Paul Taylor — will make its Chautauqua Amphitheater debut at 8:15 p.m. tonight, during the company’s week-long residency.
“(Taylor) and this company are really an American icon,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts. “With such an icon like that, who really defined so many things about American modern dance, we’re really excited that they are celebrating his legacy here.”
Tonight’s four-bill show will open with the seminal Aureole, set to scores by George Frideric Handel. This accessible white ballet — originally danced by ballerino aficionados Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov — boosted Taylor into the “pantheon of the great modern dancers and choreographers,” according to the company.
3 Epitaphs features early New Orleans funeral jazz and dirges figures who “prove that physical comedy is timeless,” the company said; Piazzolla Caldera is a tango of passion and lust.
Closing the night is the definitive Taylor work, Esplanade, choreographed to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major and the Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. Esplanade explores a range of moods: playful, somber, romantic and explosive.
“(This) program is a gem because not only does it include two of Mr. Taylor’s most iconic pieces in Aureole and Esplanade, but it includes a look into Mr. Taylor’s quirky sense of humor in 3 Epitaphs and his dive into sexuality and depravity in Piazzolla Caldera, ” said company dancer Robert Kleinendorst. “If you want to see the many faces of Paul Taylor, this program is it.”
Taylor choreographed over 140 pieces from 1954 until his death in the summer of 2018. The company’s performance at Chautauqua is a stop on its one-year tour, commemorating Taylor’s body of work.
“I am determined to further Paul Taylor’s vision and to bring his gems to every part of the globe … and to make sure modern dance remains a transformative force for good in our lives long into the future,” Taylor’s successor, Michael Novak, said on the company’s website.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform again on Saturday, in collaboration with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra; the bill will include Taylor’s final work, Concertiana, completed just before his death, with music by Eric Ewazen.
Taylor’s traveling company, Taylor 2, will also host classes through Special Studies for both dancers and non-dancers, mini-performances and open rehearsals.
The Chautauqua Dance Circle will host a dance preview with the Paul Taylor Dance Company at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 7 in Smith Wilkes Hall before the company’s 8:15 p.m. performance.