Michigan Opera Theatre

Paul Taylor Dance Company’s Detroit program examines political change, remembered love

By Erica Hobbs
Paul Taylor Dance Company at the MOT showcases its artistic range: the rebellion of the '60s; remembered love; and the scope of the human condition.

This week, Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) presents the revered Paul Taylor Dance Company for two performances April 21-22 at the Detroit Opera House. The performances mark the company’s first visit to the Opera House since 1999 and bring a program that examines political change, remembered love and the human condition.

“Paul Taylor is one of the few remaining choreographers from an inspired dance generation in the 1950s and ‘60s,” said MOT Principal Conductor Stephen Lord. “He continues to create breathtaking masterpieces with an incredible range of expression.”

The company, since its founding by dancer/choreographer Paul Taylor in 1954, is the epitome of the third wave of modern dance. Following the work of modern dance pioneers, including Taylor’s own teacher Martha Graham, Paul Taylor Dance Company made a name for itself exploring themes of the societal changes of the 1960s.

In Detroit, the company will perform three works that show the gamut of its artistic range. “Changes” is an homage to the rebellion of the 1960s, performed to the music of The Mamas and The Papas. The work starts with a fearless individual and grows stronger with the collective.

“As artists, we need to stand united and be that change,” said Paul Taylor Dance Company Member Christina Lynch Markham. “Fueled by the music of The Mamas and The Papas, we dance, we question authority, we demand radical change."

“Eventide” is a bittersweet tribute to remembered love, set to Ralph Vaugh­­n Williams’ “Suite for Viola and Orchestra” and “Hymn-Tune Prelude No. 1.” It is a dance where subtle gestures of loving couples can be seen against a pastoral landscape.

“We view couples in different stages of their relationships and let out a collective sigh when we realize that not all of them live happily ever after,” Markham said.

The program concludes with “Promethean Fire,” a work that examines a kaleidoscope of emotional colors in the human condition. Set to three keyboard works by Bach, dancers costumed in black weave in and out of intricate patterns that mirror the way varied emotions weave themselves through life.

“Dressed in the same costumes, dancers move as one unit to guide the audience through a variety of feelings - from the grim despair of a pile of bodies to the final tableau of hope,” Markham said.

MOT CEO Wayne S. Brown said presenting Paul Taylor Dance Company is part of MOT’s commitment to artistic excellence.

“Michigan Opera Theatre prides itself on presenting the best nationally and internationally-recognized dance companies to our Detroit audiences,” he said. “We are proud to present such an iconic company in our revered Detroit Opera House.”

Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 at 2:30 p.m. at the Detroit Opera House at 1526 Broadway, Detroit. Ticket prices range from $29 to $89 and may be purchased online at MichiganOpera.org, by calling (313) 237-7464 or in person at the Detroit Opera House. For more information visit MichiganOpera.org.