The Paul Taylor Dance Company

I can’t dance worth a damn and I know it. I know nothing about the technical aspects beyond the years I’ve spent watching So You Think You Can Dance (I love you Nigel), but still I love it. When I see what other people can achieve using just their bodies, the emotions that can be evoked without words, I get downright giddy. I’m passionate about passion, I love Love, I want you to make me feel what you’re feeling as you extend your fingertips towards the audience.

That love of the dance experience found me sitting in the Jubilee Auditorium waiting for the much-anticipated opening night of The Alberta Ballet‘s presentation of The Paul Taylor Dance Company. Billed as the greatest choreographer alive, Paul Taylor brought his American modern dance mastery to Calgary for the very first time and it didn’t take long to see what all of the fuss was about.

Swinging through the 1940’s, the piece Company B featured the music of the Andrews sisters as the group of young dancers portrayed the carefree spirit of the era that was swiftly crushed by the perils of war, the spirit that reemerged, now changed forever by the torment that war inflicts on the soldiers and those they leave behind.  My favorite moments of this piece came courtesy of the shadow work in the background showing soldiers marching off to war in slow motion unison.

Photo courtesy of Paul B. Goode

The second piece was by far my favorite dance of the night and is definitely in my top 10 of all time. Titled Piazzolla Caldera, the smoky, sexual essence of all things tango is laid out with nothing held back and nothing off-limits. A sensual young woman flings herself towards others with wanton abandon, desperate for a partner of her own. Men lilt around drunkenly as lights sway with them overhead, and the erotic charge builds as they pair off, ignoring gender boundaries, move into trios, and show that love and lust is blind to all things. The way Taylor showcases the beauty and passion of same-sex relationships was incredible and I was so sad that this seemed to be the shortest piece of the night. I could have watched that forever.

Photo courtesy of Paul Taylor Dance Company

The finale piece, titled Esplanade, was created by Paul Taylor in 1975 when he saw a young girl running for the bus. This was so unique and wonderful but I don’t really know how to describe it. Instead, here’s a small piece of it from 1977.


If you live in Edmonton, or you fancy a drive, catch the final performances tonight and tomorrow night at the Edmonton Jubilee Auditorium. I would see this again in a hot second!

Click here for tickets

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