This spring, the Yale Dance Theater will bring modern American dance archives to life.
The spring project of Yale Dance Theater, a faculty-sponsored extracurricular dance group, will focus on the early works of 20th- and 21st-century American choreographer Paul Taylor, a pioneer of American modern dance. The project is a collaboration between Yale Dance Theater and Taylor’s professional company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Auditions will be held on Monday, Dec. 4.
“The exciting dimension to the project is that we will be participating in the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s reconstruction of a work from 1963 that hasn’t been viewed in decades,” said Emily Coates ’06 GRD ’11, director of the Theater Studies Program’s Dance Studies curriculum and Yale Dance Theater’s faculty director.
The project features the reconstruction of a dance called “Party Mix,” led by Ruth Andrien, the rehearsal director of Taylor 2, Taylor’s seven member professional touring company.
Reconstructing “Party Mix” involves reviewing archival materials, including a poor-quality film of the dance.
“From that grainy video — where you can’t see faces — we will restage the work,” Andrien said.
Andrien will also use her experience as a dancer in the Paul Taylor Dance Company from 1974 to 1983 to physically recall Taylor’s movement vocabulary to help in the work’s recreation.
Andrien said that, in “Party Mix,” Taylor was “interested in two-dimensional movement.” Although Taylor created several works in that genre, Andrien added, this is the first in which he “really emphasizes movement in the flat plane.”
According to Andrien, “Party Mix” has an “abstract storyline” that portrays a mix of guests attending a hostess character’s party. This storyline plays on Taylor’s group’s experiences on state department tours and at embassy cocktail hours and other social events around the time the dance was created, Andrien added. Yet Taylor chose to flatten this scene: Andrien said that by putting both the characters and the movements in a flat plane, Taylor allows for “tremendous creative opportunity to look at the body and the angles the body makes.”
Brittany Stollar GRD ’18, a student coordinator of Yale Dance Theater who will dance in this spring’s performance, said the absence of a readily available video recording of “Party Mix” will “keep [their] interpretations fresh.”
“The fact that we will share the stage with professional dancers who have toured the world is daunting, but I think our group will excel under the pressure, and our audiences will get the chance to see a great show,” Stollar added.
Coates said the work represents a moment when Taylor began creating dances in the aesthetic he is known for today, characterized by “lush movement and well-crafted modern dance composition.”
Michael Apuzzo ’05, a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, will return to campus to work on the project. Apuzzo first saw Taylor live while at Yale, he said, adding that, during his undergraduate years, he “fell in love with modern dance.”
In addition to staging performances, Yale Dance Theater also produces the Yale Dance Theater Journal, a publication featuring notes, research, photographs and other materials related to the group’s dance projects.
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