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Jo Tomalin

Paul Taylor Dance Company

By Jo Tomalin


Gossamer Gallants (Francisco Graciano & Michael Apuzzo) (c) Tom Carava

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paris 

at Les Etés de la Danse Festival

The brilliant Opening Night of the Paul Taylor Dance Company on June 20th 2012 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot was also the official opening of the 8th annual international dance event in Paris of the Les Etés de la Danse festival. 

Every summer since 2005 the Les Etés de la Danse festival invites one or two of the most prestigious international dance companies to Paris. Previous companies are: San Francisco Ballet (2005), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2006 and 2009), Ballet National de Cuba (2007), Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal (2008), Ballet Novossibirsk (2010),  “Duet” with Ana Laguna and Mikhail Baryshnikov (2010), and “In Paris” with Mikhail Baryshnikov and the Dmitry Krymov Laboratory (2011).

Paul Taylor (c) Paul Palmaro

This summer, Les Etés de la Danse 2012 offerings are both from the USA: the Paul Taylor Dance Company, from June 19 to 28, and a return of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, from June 25 to July 21.

On Opening Night the Paul Taylor Dance Company program I saw comprised three ensemble pieces: “Gossamer Gallants”, “The Uncommitted”,  and “Syzygy”.

“Gossamer Gallants” choreographed by Paul Taylor premiered in November 2011. Presented for the first time in Paris by Les Etés de la Danse – it is playful, fresh and tells the story about fire-flies and how they pair up, the females searching for their gossamer gallant. The movement of the fire-flies was authentic with quivering arms and hands with quick changes of directions, leaps and symmetry to musical extracts by Bedrich Smetana. Humorous moments of brief acrobatic moves folded into the movement or competition as the males vied for the females were well received.

Stylish décor and Costumes designed by Santo Loquasto added to the creativity and playfulness – the men in shimmery sleek black and turquoise metallic detailed body suits, headdress caps and beautiful glistening gossamer wings –the women in shimmery leaf green metallic body suits, headdress caps and glistening white wings. Décor by Loquasto and warm dramatic lighting by Jennifer Tipton provided a wondrous atmosphere for these insects with a backdrop of a huge circular castle surrounded by the silhouettes of trees with wiry branches, evoking the dark of night when fire-flies play.

The Uncommitted (Eran Bugge, Robert Kleinendorstet Aileen Roehl)

(c) Photo : Rick McCullough

“The Uncommitted” choreographed by Paul Taylor premiered in July 2011. Presented for the first time in Paris by Les Etés de la Danse – is a lugubrious and mystical piece set to Arvo Pärt’s exquisite music: Fratres, Mozart-Adagio, Ricercar and Summa.

This dance, in four parts firstly explores the mood of the music, and secondly, the dynamics of individuals, pairs and groups coming together – and separating.

The Uncommitted (Michelle Fleet)(c) Tom Caravaglia

In the first part of “The Uncommitted” a dance phrase is repeated by nine dancers as pairs and groups form and disperse depositing a new dancer alone onstage to do their version of the phrase. Each part evolves with the next piece of music, including an outstanding solo by Michelle Fleet and different combinations of dancers. It’s a fascinating meditative piece. The dancing is often muscular with low center of gravity, and slowly sustained in the beautiful section of lifts in the adagio pairs.   

This piece transports you visually and viscerally. It’s sultry music, ever changing formations of dancers and poignant relationships, Tipton’s rich red lighting and Loquasto’s red and blue/gray shaded ancient tapestry inspired patterned costumes make this a very special piece indeed.

Syzygy (Michael Trusnovec & Robert Kleinendorst (c) Paul B. Goode)




“Syzygy” choreographed by Paul Taylor in 1987 to Donald York’s music is a wonderfully fun and fluid piece. According to the program, the astronomical term “Syzygy” means the configuration of “a nearly straight line of three or more celestial bodies in a gravitational system”. As if in orbit, the dancers are in continual motion around each other, changing speed – with falls, twirls, and darts. This piece is brilliantly choreographed to the music; it is a whole and a very well realized work.

Piazzolla Caldera (Annmaria Mazzini,Lisa Viola & Robert Kleinendorst (c) Paul B. Goode)




Brandenburgs (Robert Kleinendorst,James Samson & Lisa Viola) (c) Lois Greenfield

For modern dance fans this festival is a feast because both companies perform a varied program of several short dance pieces at each performance, so it is possible to go more than once and see the repertoire of different dances by each outstanding dance company. 

Cloven Kingdom (Jeffrey Smith,Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak & Francisco Graciano)(c) Tom Caravaglia


A wonderful feature of the Les Etés de la Danse festival is the “Rencontres-Spectacles” on Wednesday afternoons during the festival.




These events are for the public and especially young people to learn about dance at these specially selected Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performances, followed by a Q&A with the dancers.

Alvin Ailey American Dance
Kirven J. Boyd dans Takademe
(Robert Battle)
Photo : Andrew Eccles

 Alvin Ailey American Dance TheaterRevelations (c) Eduardo Patino




Les Etés de la Danse Festival Dates 2012:

Paul Taylor Dance Company – June 19 to 28, 2012 at the Théâtre National de Chaillot.Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – June 25 to July 28, 2012 at the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Websites – tickets & more information:

Les Etés de la Danse:

Paul Taylor Dance Company:

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater:

Jo Tomalin Ph.D.