11/6/23 O&A NYC DANCE REVIEW: Vespers- Paul Taylor Dance Company

By Walter Rutledge

The Paul Taylor Dance Company began its sixty-ninth season on Tuesday October 31 at the New York State Theater. The two-week fifteen performance season will offer a total of fourteen works by five choreographers. The season will present a world premieres by Larry Keigwin and Lauren Lovette, the return of a work by Amy Hall Garner, company premiere by and Ulysses Dove and nine Taylor classics.

Because of our kitsch culture approach to society at large so much of our art and culture has become disposable. Discount clothing that only last six washes, music lyrics designed to shock instead of inspire, films with more explosions than dialogue are a few of the examples of our embrace of mediocrity. Unfortunately, even the lofty art of dance has seen its fair share of ill conceived “boo- able” one season ballets. This is why it was so refreshing to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s interpretation of Ulysses Dove contemporary modern dance classic Vespers.

Since its debut on the Dayton Contemporary Dance Theater in 1986 the fast-paced movement for six women continues to captivate audiences and is presently enjoying renewed acclaim and visibility throughout the country. In addition to the Taylor’s company premiere Vespers has also joined the repertoire of Chicago based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, BalletMet (Columbus Ohio) and Contemporary West Dance Theatre (Las Vegas, Nevada).

In past seasons the Taylor Company has presented dance classics as part of company founder Paul Taylor’s commitment to present and preserve the ephemeral art form of dance. The company has presented Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia and Fugue, and Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Round My Shoulder. These two masterworks were performed by guest artists from the Jose Limon Dance Company and Dayton Contemporary Dance Theater respectively. This season members of the Taylor Company (Maria Ambrose, Lisa Borres, Eran Bugge, Kristin Draucker, Jessica Ferretti and Jada Pearman) danced Vespers with the appropriate rigor, aplomb and temperament.

In Vespers the choreography is the star of this ensemble work. It was inspired by the choreographer’s blood memories of the resilient women in his grandmother’s church. Women who projected Amazonian strength tempered by an “other world” reverence.

The dancers masterfully articulated the oft-times explosive movement passages weaving a declaration of female empowerment. The riveting and intense score by Mikel Rouse and atmospheric lighting by William Grant lll completed the sensory experience of Dove’s stark yet ample realm. This succinct seventeen-minute movement manifesto left the audience spellbound.

Kudos to Alfred Dove the brother of the late choreographer who restaged Vespers and remains the stalwart steward of his estate. Artistic Director Michael Novak continues to build a repertoire for the 21st century. Fortunately building a 21st century repertoire also includes attracting a new 21 century audience. His initial success was evident with the many new faces attending this performance.

You have one more opportunity to see Vespers on Thursday November 9th at 7pm. Ticket prices for the 2023 season start at $15 and are available at www.boxoffice.dance.

In Photo: 1) ensemble 2) Jada Pearman  3) Alfred Dove

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Out & About NYC Magazine was founded to offer the arts and lifestyle enthusiast a fresh new look at New York City. We will showcase the established and the emerging, the traditional and the trendy. And we will do it with élan, and panache with a dash of fun.
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