Today we had Taylor 2's Company Director, Ruthie O'Neill, and one of the Taylor 2 Dancers, Amanda Stepheson, in the classroom. Taylor 2 was company in 1994 by Paul Taylor and the Paul Taylor dance company. A few key points from today's class:
As we saw with King Louis XIV, ballet could be performed as a political statement. It's vocabulary of movement included turned out feet, upright bodies, and pointed toes.
However, artists such as Ballet Russe's Nijinsky began creating new forms of ballet as seen in "The Rite of Spring" (above). Nijinsky played with broken lines and shapes, turned in feet, and in so doing, inspired the next generation of choreographers to rebel from the rigid constraints of ballet.
The mother of Modern Dance, Martha Graham, rebelled from ballet dance to focus on contraction and release as viewed in her work, Lamentation (as seen above). She also played with bound movements, flexed feet, bare feet, angular movements and level changes. In class, Ruthie explained that Martha Graham believed that bodies never lie. In 1985, Martha Graham stated in a NY Times article: "To me, the body says what words cannot. I believe that dance was the first art. A philosopher has said that dance and architecture were the two first arts. I believe that dance was first because it's gesture, it's communication. That doesn't mean that it's telling a story, but it means it's communicating a feeling, a sensation to people."
Swimmer turned dancer Paul Taylor calls himself the father of post-modern dance. Post-Modern dance derived from and disassociated with Modern Dance. In Post-Modern dance, gesture, posture and pedestrian movements are elevated to high art through context. While some of his dances are abstract, others have a linear or narrative structure. He also collaborated with artists such as Rauschenberg and Katz. Unlike many other post-modern artists, Taylor wanted to please the audience. However, he stated that for him he wanted to please his dancers, please the audience, but most importantly, please himself.
Before answering these questions, I recommend reviewing the "Watching Dance" article for vocabulary terms to describe it. This article can be found here: http://www.artsalive.ca/en/dan/understand/appreciate/watchdance.asp
1. The concert Friday will contain Esplanade, performed with W.M.U. dance students; Funny Papers, a comedic riff on comics; Aureole, the dance similar to Louis XIV's Sun King performance; and Piazzolla Caldera, which we saw becoming choreographed on the video. Which dance are you most excited to see? Why?
2. After trying out the Runes dance in class, what did you notice was challenging about learning or performing the dance? How was it difficult?
3. Ruthie mentioned that in ballet, falling is a mistake, but in modern dance, falling is a destination. What does a fall express to the audience? What emotions are evoked when you see someone fall hard? fall gracefully?
4. As seen in class, some of Paul Taylor's dances are more abstract and allow the viewer to have any interpretation to what they see whereas others of his dances are more narrative or linear and tell the audience what it's about. What do you prefer in art? Do you like the artist to spoon feed you the meaning or do you prefer it to be abstract and open ended? Why?
5. After learning about the evolution of dance from ballet to modern to post-modern dance, the dance style that evolved from post-modern dance is what is known as contemporary dance. This dance form is viewed frequently in both concert and commercial dance forms such as on TV like "So you think you can dance". Do a little digging into what is contemporary dance. How is it a rebellion from post-modern dance?
6. Compare any or all of Paul Taylor's dances to another work of art we have viewed this semester. How are they similar? How are they different?