An Octogenarian Legend Makes His Lincoln Center Debut

Michelle Michalos |
Where: David H. Koch Theater
When: March 14-April 1, 2012

After nearly 60 years of performances, the Paul Taylor Dance Company made its debut at Lincoln Center on Tuesday. The esteemed company’s two-week season introduces three New York premieres and celebrates the 50th anniversary of Paul Taylor’s groundbreaking “Aureole.”

One of the few legends of modern dance still choreographing, Taylor has created 136 dances since 1954, including the new works “Gossamer Gallants,” “House of Joy” and “The Uncommitted,” and two pieces the octogenarian revised for the season: “House of Cards” and “Junction.” The company will present 18 dances, with three to four shown at each performance.

Choreographer Paul Taylor has created 136 dances during his career; three new works debut at his first season at Lincoln Center. Photo by Maxine Hicks.

Normally a fixture at New York City Center, the company leaped 10 blocks uptown after the withdrawal of the New York City Opera from the David H. Koch Theater created an opening for dance at the Lincoln Center venue.  A spokesperson for the Paul Taylor Dance Company said, “We’re hoping that by bringing our new season there, we’ll bring in not only existing fans of Mr. Taylor’s work, but also new ones. Paul Taylor is known as a master of change.”

Taylor’s upbeat, lyrical “Aureole” was created in 1962 during a company engagement in Paris. Though set to the music of  George Frideric Handel, the dance reflects the era in which it was created.  Elizabeth Walton, an original cast member, conveys the dance’s moment in history in a statement on the company website:  “‘Aureole’ was choreographed when America was mostly a happy place. The Kennedys were in office and things were looking very hopeful.”

“Aureole” became the first dance of Taylor’s to be licensed by a ballet company (the Royal Danish Ballet).  It would go on to be performed by
Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov and Taylor himself chose it for his farewell performance as a dancer, in 1974.


Excerpts from a performance of  “Aureole” in 2006.

The popular appeal of “Aureole” has not waned in the post-Camelot era. Michelin-starred restaurant Aureole New York is offering a prix-fixe menu in honor of the dance’s 50th anniversary.  Chef Charlie Palmer watched videos of  “Aureole” and tailored the menu for the dance. Actor Alan Cumming, an “ambassador” for the dance company, served as Master of Ceremonies for the company’s black-tie gala on Thursday and was one of the first to taste the menu.  He and principal dancers Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young even helped name some of the courses.

The innovative dance company recently took its fundraising and engagement strategy to the next level with the Create with Taylor blog, which granted visitors access to behind-the-scenes documentation of  Taylor creating his 136th dance, “House of Joy,” for as little as a five-dollar donation.

What’s next for the Paul Taylor Dance Company? Taylor is already working on his next dance, and will begin to introduce it to the company’s dancers this summer.


The introductory video to the blog Create with Taylor.

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