If you weren’t able to go to the City of Light to see Paul Taylor Dance Company perform last year at the Théâtre National de Chaillot at the Festival Les Étes de la Danse 2012 on the 50th anniversary of the company’s first appearance there in 1962, then watching this special is the next best thing.

The company performs “Brandenburgs”  and”Beloved Renegade.” The company first performed “Brandenbergs” in 1988. The piece is set to music from Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) Brandenburg concertos #3 and #6 ((1721). As a lover of both classical music and modern dance (or at least Paul Taylor), I could watch this piece forever. Men and ladies dressed in what appears to be dark velvet with gold trim dance in elegant formations. Taylor gives us the gallantry of men as the court playful women with cool formality.

“Beloved Renegade” uses Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria” was is inspired by the works of the 19th Century American writer Walt Whitman (1819-1892), specifically a line from his “Leaves of Grass”: “I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the soul.” “Leaves of Grass” was a poetry collection that Whitman re-edited throughout his life. It was first published in 1855 and was considered a bit racy because the narrator looks with delight at the sensual pleasures of life.

“Beloved Renegade” looks at man’s journey toward death and the man is led by the dark angel of death who is neither dark nor frightening. The dancers are dresses in light colors. The man bid farewell to all of his friends. Yet the feeling is both solemn and joyful.

Performing in “Brandenburgs” are Michael Trusnovec, Amy Young, Parisa Khobdeh, Eran Bugge, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Sean Mahoney, Michael Apuzzo and Michael Novack.

For “Beloved Renegade,” Michael Trusnovec, Amy Young, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Laura Halzack, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Jeffrey Smith, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Aileen Roehl and Heather McGinley.

Costumes are by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Jennifer Tipton.

After seeing this “Great Performances” production which uses various camera angles but always keeps the dancer in mind you might consider purchasing the DVD.

Paul Taylor (born 29 July 1930) is now 82 and is one of the last living members of the second generation of modern dance. Martha Graham called him the “naughty boy” of dance and he still choreographs two new pieces of work each year according to PBS.

If you haven’t had the chance to see the Paul Taylor Company in person, don’t miss this presentation.  “Great Performances: Paul Taylor Company in Paris” airs on Friday, 3 May 2013 at 9 p.m. (check local listings).

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