The Paul Taylor Dance Company Show


Harini Devaguptapu, Staff Writer

Dancing is truly a beautiful art, and it has been used to explore and showcase the different stories, inner workings of humans, and aspects of life we each have to offer. Watching the Paul Taylor show that I attended on Apr. 29 was one of the experiences that I will never forget. I can still remember the feeling of walking into the LA Music Center and feeling the lights and seeing the fancy chandeliers and not knowing what to expect at all. After walking into this gorgeous big theater, with the excited chatter of people and discussions on these iconic dance pieces filling the room, the performance did not disappoint. As soon as the lights dimmed, the music started playing. Each dancer’s entrance on stage lifted my heart; I could feel myself immediately smiling and feeling joy. 

The dances that were performed that day were “Company B” by Paul Taylor and “The Green Table” by Kurt Jooss, which are two classic masterpieces, and the world premiere of “Dream Machine” by Lauren Lovette. 

The best part of watching these performances is knowing the rich history of each dance piece and the inspiration behind each one. Interpreting and connecting with the dancers made the experience especially enjoyable. Knowing what the creators of these dances were trying to bring to the world, I was able to understand what each movement, music, and expression was trying to tell the audience. These artists had something to share with this world, and they gave it to us with their talent and ambition, using their experiences to tell us what they want us to know and learn. 

With each of the dancers I noticed an intense chemistry between them. I could see how they connected with each other emotionally and physically; their movements were so in sync with each other, and there was a bond between them. This made the show very fascinating to watch.

Kenny Corrigan, dancer from Paul Taylor, shared his experiences and insight in being a dancer, being at Paul Taylor, and being a part of this show.

“There’s definitely a lot of camaraderie amongst the whole company as dancers, as a company, and as a whole. We have that because some of the partnering we do is so athletic. We are literally putting our lives in our coworkers’ hands, so we need to be closer than coworkers. We need to be essentially a family and a team, and I think there’s a certain level of trust going into a performance or even a regular day at rehearsal.”

“I think eye contact, I know, is really important. I know Paul really encouraged dancers to look at each other, so when you’re stepping into an understudy or something, [and] you don’t feel completely confident with the choreography, that’s what I was told, is that it’s OK to look at the person next to you and feed off their energy…Within this past year I’ve noticed a growth in the sense that I feel very connected to all of these dancers and all 15  of these dancers.” 

“Company B” starts off upbeat and exciting with great music from the 40s sung by the Andrew Sisters. Despite the cheery, exciting costumes and choreography, there is a shadow of death and war in the background. This piece displays the turbulent times in which America emerged from the Great Depression and fell into the Second World War. You can see the high spirits and energies of people saying goodbye to their loved ones. They are playful and excited about a hopeful future, although there is a hint of darkness to the idea that they may never come back from war and don’t know when they will meet again.

The dancers were very expressive in their dancing. Their movements were unique, yet very fitting to the piece. As the dance progressed, you could see the obvious juxtaposition with the young lovers trying to grasp onto hope and stay happy while in the background’s darkness and shadows the soldiers are dying. They are clearly trying to reach out to the people who have gone away. By the end, the atmosphere and world has changed quite a bit, as the war affected the world and impacted their lives forever. This dance was perfect to start off with, and this is an excellent example of Paul Taylor using a dance to present history and showcase the impact of war.

Dream Machine is a 30-minute piece divided into three sections with the percussion concerto by Micheal Daugherty that takes us on to show us humans and their excitement and curiosity for technology and creating new inventions. In each of the three movements there is a clear distinction between grace and beauty, and the power of it, too. There is an entire world created through this creativity and filled with exploration. 

When creating this piece, Lovette thought about what exactly happens when people are creating new inventions, and how they make our imaginations soar about what we want to present to the world. The costumes and lighting were spectacular and really grabbed the essence of a new world of inventions and technology.

Each section was different from each other, although they all connected with one another. The first section was about creating machine parts, focusing on a girl who is creating this machine, and the second section was a duet where the dancers danced with Heely’s, and the third section, as Corrigan described, was Star Trek-inspired and his favorite to do.

Corrigan talked about what it was like to work with Lovette for the Dream Machine as he shared, “This wasn’t my first time working with Lauren…Her process is very similar in a sense that she loves to showcase her dancers and their unique skills and fortes as much as she can; she doesn’t want her dancers to look the same or remotely look the way she demonstrates or choreographed it.”

Throughout these pieces, there is a storyline that is being shared as well as movements that correspond to the music. 

In these pieces, there are a lot of emotions and a lot that the dancers are bringing out to the audience. When asked how he embodies these emotions and makes them clear to the audience Corrigan shared, “it always helps to have your own storyline in your head. For example, for performing the duet with the Heelys where it was supposed to be like electric heels, and there’s a lot of steps to remember and a lot of time on stage so for me, I always have an inner monologue of…what I’m saying, when I’m doing this movement this is what I should be thinking about, and this is what I want to say throughout the movement. So the movement kind of becomes a dialogue in a sense for me.”

“The Green Table,” first performed in 1932, is one of the most astounding and shocking performances I have ever seen, and it is quite fascinating to see a dance being performed to share a political view’s impact on people. It is quite real, honest, and raw, and I was truly awestruck watching this performance. After all these years, the message in this dance is still just as real as it once was before. 

The piece starts off with the politicians sitting at a green table and discussing war strategies and making arrangements knowing that they will not be hurt in this war but the world around them will be. It starts off with an eerie vibe, and they are all wearing these masks and mocking these politicians by showing their actions being hypocritical and selfish. There is the use of mock guns which, after more silent and calmer movements, they set off. It was startling, but made a big statement for what the piece was trying to tell us. 

From this, it changes to the soldiers marching with death following them around as they go, which is glowing blue and intimated to be inevitable for them. Their loved ones urge them to come back, and to stay away from the war. People are quite literally dancing with death, forced into doing things that end up killing them. 

In the end, we come back to that same green table where the politicians are proud of themselves for everything they have done. It is quite remarkable how much we can get from this, and how we can relate to it in today’s world. We know the struggles, and all the death that surrounds when these things happen, and somehow there are these voices making the decisions for us. 

When asked how Corrigan considered performing “The Green Table” in consideration of today’s politics, and the differences of how it was when it was first created, he shared, “Unfortunately I don’t think much has changed. It depicts the futility of peace negotiations, and that’s still happening, and war is still going on, and I do think that unfortunately, it still has the same message and unfortunately, also stands the test of time. My role was the flag bearer…It’s an iconic piece, and it’s obviously still being performed by many ballet companies. It’s an honor for Paul Taylor to be able to perform it…I’d say it’s definitely still relatable today.”

These choreographers have made a great statement creating pieces that speak out to the world on things that need to be said, and have created a diverse world of choreographies displaying an immense number of different techniques. 

Dancing is truly a beautiful art, and Paul Taylor really captured the essence of that. The art they are making will forever be alive for everyone to see. I really got into the dances and fell into the worlds that they were building. These performances are truly unforgettable and one of those very once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Be sure to check out their beautiful pieces, and learn more about Paul Taylor’s Dance Company and the legacy they are leaving, the beautiful dancers and choreographers, and everyone behind the scenes who are working hard and displaying their art.

Watching this world premiere and seeing it come to life before me was one of the best things I have experienced. I was so focused on what was happening, I couldn’t take my eyes off of how beautiful everything was and how well each part of it went with each other.  


Photo courtesy of Paul Taylor Dance Company