Dance Dialogs - Michigan Opera Theatre

Dance Dialogs

Welcome to MOT’s Dance Dialogs. Similar to a book club, this is a monthly virtual gathering to view and discuss dance together. MOT will share digital dance works of certain themes to view on your own. Then we will all meet via ZOOM on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 3:00 PM (ET). Each meeting will be hosted by Jon Teeuwissen, MOT Artistic Advisor to Dance and Kim Smith, MOT Dance Coordinator. They will be joined by a guest facilitator of discussion for the selected dance works; the guest facilitators will be comprised of choreographers, artistic directors, dance scholars and dance critics. Themes will vary from comparing similar pieces of dance works, celebrations of cultures through dance, highlighting legendary artists, and more.


SEPTEMBER – Paul Taylor Dance Company

This month we are exploring the creative brilliance of one of America’s modern dance masters; Paul Taylor. Join Jon Teeuwissen, MOT Artistic Advisor for Dance and Kim Smith, MOT Dance Coordinator on September 15 at 3:00PM for a discussion with Suzanne Carbonneau, dance scholar who worked closely with Paul Taylor in the last 5 years of life. Out of his 140+ work repertoire we will be looking at the following pieces of Mr. Taylor's work ranging in themes around love to historic events.

All videos can be found by clicking the button below.

CLICK HERE

PASSWORD: FORD


Arden Court

Choreography: Paul Taylor
Music: William Boyce
Notes: “One of the few great art works created in the 20th century...exploring a new movement field of love and relationship. The women dance into the men’s areas as if Shakespeare had only written Romeo and Juliet the day before. I am convinced that this is one of the sentimental works of our time...something extraordinary in the history of dance”. - Clive Barnes, New York Post

Points of interest to look for as you watch: 

      • The name of the ballet is a reference to Shakespeare’s As You Like It and its vision of pastoral bliss. 
      • Note the role reversals in terms of gender stereotypes and who is pursuing whom. 
      • Note the intentional height difference in the trio for women, and the added interest that ensues in the stage picture Taylor constructs. 
      • Note how Taylor plays with juxtaposition between adagio and allegro. 
      • Note the different number of dancers in each section, and how this affects the relationships among the dancers. 

Beloved Renegade

Choreography: Paul Taylor (2008)
Music: Francis Poulenc
Notes: Set to Poulenc’s choral Gloria, the dance was inspired by the life and work of 19th Century American writer Walt Whitman, who revered the body and soul as one and who famously loved all with equal ardor. It depicts the experiences of an artist described in a line from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. “I am the poet of the body and the poet of the soul.” Scenes from his life include watching children play, and tending to the afflicted just as Whitman nursed wounded soldiers during the Civil War. After his own mortality is foretold, the poet bids poignant farewell to those who love him. He is then embraced by a benevolent female spirit with “The sure-endwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.”
“The best new choreography in 2008. Deeply moving...a work philosophic as well as dramatic power. Mr. Taylor ranks among the Great War poets...one of the great achievements of his long career and one of the most eloquently textured feats of his singular imagination.” - Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times

Points of interest to look for as you watch: 

      • Inspired by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Taylor created a dance that is a meditation on life and death. 
      • Note the use of a female figure as an embodiment of death. 
      • Taylor was concerned with embodying all of human emotion and experience in his dances; in this dance, how does Taylor suggest the sense of Whitman’s “multitudes”? 
      • Taylor portrays time in a nonlinear fashion in this dance – note that he uses both retrospective and foreshadowing. 

Big Bertha

Choreography: Paul Taylor (1970)
Music: From the St. Louis Melody Museum collection of band machines
Notes: “A hair-raising, thought provoking, brilliant work that starts out as hilarious comedy and ends as tragedy...it moves with inescapable power from innocent pleasures to incestuous rape.” -Dorothy Samachson, Chicago Daily News

Points of interest to look for as you watch 

      • The name refers to a heavy siege howitzer developed by the Germans in WWI that struck terror in the troops it was used against; the name would be used over the course of the 20th Century to signify other weapons of great destruction. It was also the name of a carousel fair organ. 
      • Note the structure of the dance, that it begins and ends in the same place. 
      • Note Taylor’s use of “innocent” American popular songs familiar from carnivals and county fairs as a backdrop to the villainous behavior orchestrated by the automaton. 
      • The dance can be seen as the story of a dysfunctional family and of buried secrets, but might it be seen as a larger metaphor for America? Premiered in 1970, do you see the relevance to the subject – then and today? 
      • Note Taylor’s mastery of economic storytelling in this relatively short dance. 

Sunset

Choreography: Paul Taylor (1983)
Music: Edward Elgar (and recorded loon calls)
Notes: “A poignant look at camaraderie among soldiers and the sweethearts they leave behind - which according to The New York Times, first marked Paul Taylor as “one of the Great War poets”. Mr. Taylor’s deeply moving meditation on war, on men with women, on men with men, on loss, on memory is one of the few great dance works of the last quarter century...Delicately presented, achingly sad”. - Robert Gottlieb, New York Observer

Points of interest to look for as you watch: 

      • Called a “war poet,” Taylor’s series of dances concerned with war are among his greatest works. 
      • Note that there are six men and four women – what does Taylor achieve in working with these unequal numbers? 
      • While watching this dance, let go of the idea of linear narrative and logic; embrace the nonlinear experience of memory. 
      • In the 1st movement, note the relationship among the group of men, and how Taylor creates individual characters among this group. 
      • In the duet, note how the gestural movement contrasts with the seriousness of the emotion. Is the woman who joins at the end of the duet real or a vision? 
      • The “leapfrog” section of a woman with six men is the most lighthearted part of the dance; note its placement in the larger structure unfolding in the dance. 
      • In the section danced to the call of the loon, even though the dancers are moving quickly, the effect is dreamlike. The duets are imaginary, as though happening in the minds of the soldiers. Why does Taylor interpolate the loon calls into the Elgar score? 
      • In the last section, the woman dancing alone seems to be warning the men of their fates, though they are unaware her presence. 


Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor - “Hailed for uncommon musicality and catholic taste, Mr. Taylor set movement to music so memorably that for many people it is impossible to hear certain orchestral works and popular songs and not think of his dances. He set works to an eclectic mix that includes Medieval masses, Renaissance dances, baroque concertos, classical warhorses, and scores by Debussy, Cage, Feldman, Ligeti and Pärt; Ragtime, Tango, Tin Pan Alley and Barbershop Quartets; Harry Nilsson, The Mamas and The Papas, and Burl Ives; telephone time announcements, loon calls and laughter. Mr. Taylor influenced dozens of men and women who have gone on to choreograph – many on their own troupes – while others have gone on to become respected teachers at colleges and universities. And he worked closely with such outstanding artists as James F. Ingalls, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, William Ivey Long, Santo Loquasto, Gene Moore, Tharon Musser, Robert Rauschenberg, John Rawlings, Thomas Skelton and Jennifer Tipton. Mr. Taylor’s dances are performed by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the six-member Taylor 2 Dance Company (begun in 1993), and companies throughout the world including the Royal Danish Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.” (ptamd.org)

September Guest Facilitator - Suzanne Carbonneau

Suzanne Carbonneau is a dance critic and historian whose writings have appeared in The Washington Post, the New York Times and other publications. She founded and directed the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Dance, and she has served as Critic-in-Residence at the American Dance Festival and at the Joyce Theater. Carbonneau is a Scholar-in-Residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and has also served as the Resident Scholar at the Bates Dance Festival. She regularly writes and lectures for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University and is a Professor at George Mason University. Her authorized biography of Paul Taylor will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and she serves as Artistic Advisor to Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. Carbonneau is a MacDowell Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Bogliasco Fellow, and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Full List of Moderators

Bonnie Brooks is a writer, producer, audience dramaturg and retired educator based in Chicago. Her career highlights include work in the Dance Program of the National Endowment for the Arts; serving as managing director of David Gordon/Pick Up Co in New York City, as executive director of Minnesota Dance Alliance in Minneapolis and as executive director of Dance/USA; teaching at UCLA and Columbia College Chicago and chairing the Dance Department at Columbia. She was Legacy Fellow for the Cunningham Dance Foundation on the Legacy Tour of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Prior to creating her own platform for new initiatives, Third Way Projects, she was director and lead curator of the dance presenting series at Columbia College Chicago.

Suzanne Carbonneau is a dance critic and historian whose writings have appeared in The Washington Post, the New York Times and other publications. She founded and directed the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Dance, and she has served as Critic-in-Residence at the American Dance Festival and at the Joyce Theater. Carbonneau is a Scholar-in-Residence at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and has also served as the Resident Scholar at the Bates Dance Festival. She regularly writes and lectures for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University and is a Professor at George Mason University. Her authorized biography of Paul Taylor will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and she serves as Artistic Advisor to Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. Carbonneau is a MacDowell Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Bogliasco Fellow, and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

David Lyman is a freelance arts writer and former dance reporter for the Detroit Free Press. He is the dance and theater writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer/Cincinnati.com and is a contributing writer to Movers and Makers and Cincy Magazine. For nearly a decade, he was a consultant and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, traveling around the country to evaluate choreographers and dance companies. He is also the author of “Cincinnati Ballet Celebrates 50,” a detailed history of Cincinnati Ballet’s first 50 years and the English adaptation of “Ballettens kommende superstjerner” (“The upcoming superstars of ballet”), about Konpagni B, the performing company of the School of the Royal Danish Ballet.

Alastair Macaulay is a British critic and historian of the performing arts, working in London and New York. Between 2007 and 2018, he was chief dance critic of the New York Times. Between 1994 and 2007, he was chief theatre critic of the Financial Times. In 2019, he was a Director’s Fellow at the New York University Center for Ballet and the Arts. He has written for numerous other publications, including The New Yorker and the Times Literary Supplement, and was the founding editor of Dance Theatre Journal. He has also written a biography on dance legend Margot Fonteyn and a book of interviews renowned choreographer Michael Bourne. In 2020, he is curating an online series of ballet masterclasses for New York City Center Studio 5 Live @ Home and lecturing for Dansox, the Oxford (U.K.) society of dance research.

Eduardo Vilaro is the CEO and Artistic Director of Ballet Hispánico. He has been part of the Ballet Hispánico family since 1985 as a dancer and educator, after which he began a 10-year record of achievement as Founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago, where he created more than 20 ballets. He has also received commissions from the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Festival, the Lexington Ballet and the Chicago Symphony. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico’s legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape. Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of six, he is a frequent speaker on the merits of cultural diversity and dance education.

Schedule

Subject: “Swan Lake”
Videos: Bolshoi Ballet (traditional) and Mathew Bourne/New Adventures (contemporary)
Guest Facilitator: David Lyman, dance critic

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 3 p.m.

Subject: Paul Taylor Dance Company
Videos: Signature Paul Taylor repertoire
Guest Facilitator: Suzanne Carbonneau, dance scholar; Paul Taylor dancers

Subject: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Ballet Hispánico
Videos: “Tiburones” (“Sharks”) by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and "Mambo" from “West Side Story” by Jerome Robbins
Guest Facilitator: Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director and CEO, Ballet Hispánico

Subject: Merce Cunningham
Videos: Signature Merce Cunningham repertoire
Guest Facilitator: Bonnie Brooks, dance scholar

Subject: “The Nutcracker”
Videos: New York City Ballet by George Balanchine and Ballet West by William Christensen (oldest US version still performed)
Guest Facilitator: Alastair Macaulay, dance critic

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Summer and Fall activities are supported by:

Dance activities are also made possible with the support of:
Joanne and Richard Brodie
The Maxine & Stuart Frankel Foundation
The Marvin, Betty, and Joanne Danto Family Foundation
and
Kevin Dennis and Jeremy Zeltzer


For many seasons MOT and UMS have worked together to bring world class dance to Southeastern Michigan. The 2020/21 dance season was going to be no different, but unfortunately the coronavirus has changed many things for both organizations. Paul Taylor Dance Company was set to perform at UMS this fall, but in lieu of Paul Taylor Dance Company’s canceled 2020/21 season appearance, UMS will offer a free streaming digital presentation. University of Michigan dance historian and educator, Angela Kane will have a unique discussion with Paul Taylor Dance Company Artistic Director, Michael Novak. As well as a look through rarely-seen footage of several iconic Taylor works, culminating in a full viewing of his 2002 Promethean Fire — arguably one of his greatest artistic achievements created in the wake of 9/11, proclaiming that even after a cataclysmic event, the human spirit finds renewal and emerges triumphant.

STREAMING September 11 - 21, 2020

STREAM HERE


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