A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

The Timeless, Elegant, Rhythmic: Paul Taylor Dance Company

Whitney Browne
A photo of Echo, choreographed by Lauren Lovette

Critic Rating: 9/10

The theater brimmed with anticipation as the audience waited for the highly esteemed Paul Taylor Dance Company to grace the stage during their 2-week stint at Lincoln Center. Prior to the dancers’ entrance, the skilled orchestra began, setting the stage for the evening of dance and excitement. 

The performance commences with intense emotion. With ease, a group of men, showcasing elegant, black skirts, glide onto the vast stage, harmoniously floating around each other. The dancers enter and journey towards the stage from all around the theater, including the aisles. Choreographed by Lauren Lovette, the principal choreographer for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Echo unfolds with grace as a captivating embodiment of gentleness within masculinity. The dancers flow as they dance around each other, often intertwining, in front of a light, monochromatic background. Echo was a beautiful homage to sensitivity and fragility overlooked within men, who are often portrayed as stoic or invulnerable.

The next dance, Vespers, choreographed by Ulysses Dove, presents a contrast with an all-women ensemble, sporting all-black tutus and leotards, marking a departure from the previous performance in both composition and tone. Vespers starts out with a singular woman on stage, sitting in a chair. The energy is noticeably different, with the orchestra playing much a more energetic, percussive accompaniment. As the dance progresses, additional dancers join, amplifying the raw, powerful atmosphere. You can feel the drive and intensity radiating off of the women on stage, which is a complete juxtaposition of the previous dance. 

For the final dance of the brilliant company, the passionate, magnetic, Piazzolla Caldera, choreographed by Paul Taylor himself, was a highlight of the performance. A fusion of both the tango and modern dance styles, it exuded a much more lustful blend of sensuality and intensity between both the men and the women. Set against a vibrant backdrop featuring a bold, crimson red, with lights suspended from the ceiling, the dance assumed an even more vivacious and animated quality. In the mesmerizing finale, which left the audience yearning for more, Paul Taylor’s artistic brilliance shined through. As the curtains descended, the lingering echo of his genius remained, a testament to the incomparable artistry of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Piazzolla Caldera, choreographed by Paul Taylor (Whitney Browne)

Although the entire performance was a remarkable display of emotions and diverse narratives, Piazzolla Caldera, the third piece within the performance, distinguished itself through its energy and distinct tone. In this piece, there is aggressive tension between two contradicting emotions, love, and hatred, which is expressed through upbeat and almost sensual movement. The attire that the dancers wore in this piece diverged from the black in previous pieces while the stage, bathed in red lighting, emitted a tone that was both passionate and enticing to the dance. At one point in this piece, the dancers did two-person cartwheels which captivated and stunned the audience, adding a more playful and interconnected theme to the piece. The music, costumes, and stage setup, coupled with the more exaggerated moves of this piece made it stick out from the other, more serious pieces and made it extremely enjoyable to watch. 

After the dynamic performance, we got the privilege to listen in on the question and answer period with Jada Pearman, a performer in the second piece Vespers, allowing us to have an even greater appreciation for the piece and what it was meant to portray. Pearman describes performing as a spiritual act that taught her patience and how to use internal silence to speak through every single gesture. This Q&A period also gave insight into the historical context and meaning of Vespers. According to Pearman, the part of the piece in which she climbs to the top of a singular chair and reaches for something in the distance symbolizes the climbing of a hard mountain and longing for something that you are struggling to have. In context to 1986, when Vespers was first performed, the climbing of the mountain and the struggle of reaching for something in the distance reflects what it felt like to be a woman during this time period. This discussion with Jada Pearman was a pleasure to sit in on and amplified our understanding of the show, as well as our enjoyment.

Echo by Lauren Lovette (Whitney Browne)

The entirety of the performance surpassed brilliance and excellence. The talent that the dancers radiated was undeniable and boundless. Their proficiency and skill illuminated the stage, captivating every gaze, and leaving an impression of sheer excellence. Each act contributed a distinct emotion, giving the audience an enjoyable whirlwind of emotions throughout. It was a journey of emotion, guided by the choreography and artistry of the dancers. After each different dance, you could not help but turn to the person next to you, eagerly anticipating the next dance, and reeling from the one you just watched. The Paul Taylor Dance Company completed its run at New York City’s Lincoln Center on November 12. However, they are often performing around the world, coming again to New York City in May of 2024. This performance can not be missed.

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About the Contributors
Madison Donenfeld, Managing Editor
Madison is a junior at Townsend Harris High School. She enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music (specifically Taylor Swift), and hanging out with her friends. You will often find her trying to learn a new instrument.
Aradhna da Silva, Film & TV Copy Editor
Aradhna is a junior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves to cook and binge watch new TV shows.
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