Paul Taylor’s Taylor 2 dance company performing April 17 in Northampton

April 12th, 2015

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Members of Taylor 2 performing “Esplanade,” one of the pieces on the program April 17 at the Academy of Music in Northampton. (Photo by Tom Caravaglia, courtesy of the Paul Taylor Dance Company)
By Ken Ross | kross@repub.com Follow on Twitter on April 09, 2015 at 4:30 AM, updated April 09, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Some dance fans take Paul Taylor for granted.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how beautiful and timeless many of Taylor’s creations are since this iconic choreographer has become such an established figure during the last five decades.

But without Paul Taylor, the world of modern dance would likely look very different.

A former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Taylor began creating his own dances in 1954. The fluid simplicity of many of his best known works might seem straightforward nowadays to many people. But Taylor’s athletic pieces were just as radical as Twyla Tharp or Merce Cunningham in their own charming, playful way.

Taylor’s dances served as a critical link between the dramatic transition from classic ballet to modern dance in the second half of the 20th Century.

Specifically, Taylor demonstrated in dance after dance that an artist could be innovative without sacrificing his childlike-sense of awe and wonder.

Works like “Aureole” and “Esplanade” and “Arden Court” celebrate the beauty of life.

Taylor’s creations also often illustrate the complexity of life, especially in darker pieces like “Sculdorama” and “Cloven Kingdom” and “Last Look.”

And best of all, the 84-year-old choreographer continues to create new works and push the dance company in new directions.

Last year, Taylor announced that he was transforming the Paul Taylor Dance Company into Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance. The decision to reinvent the company and perform his works along with those by other choreographers was done in an effort preserve the company beyond Taylor’s lifetime, he explained in an interview with The New York Times last year.

“I prefer to think I’m going to live forever, but of course that’s not possible,” he said. “So at some point, they’re going to not let me make dances anymore. So I have to think ahead.”

Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance opened its inaugural season last month at Lincoln Center in New York.

Fortunately, you can do more than just read about Taylor’s magnificent works. You can experience them in person closer to home when Taylor 2 performs on Friday, April 17 at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Taylor created Taylor 2 in 1993. This smaller, second company has six dancers and exclusively performs Taylor’s works throughout the world.

In Northampton, Taylor 2 will perform “Aureole,” “Esplanade” and “The Uncommitted,” the 134th dance created by Taylor in 2011.

“The Uncommitted” has a much more somber, austere tone than the other two works on the program in Northampton. But there’s no mistaking Taylor’s spark and voracious appetite for life. Even when the mood turns dark on stage, you can’t look away from Taylor’s spellbinding movements.

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Pioneer Valley Performing Arts’ Catalyst Dancers to perform in Northampton

April 12th, 2015

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By Kathryn Roy | Special to The Republican
on March 26, 2015 at 7:03 AM, updated March 26, 2015 at 7:07 AM

A group of talented students at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School is preparing for its annual spring dance performance.

The Catalyst Dance Company, one of the three dance companies at the South Hadley school, will perform in three shows for the public on April 10 and 11 at The Academy of Music in Northampton.

Catalyst is a pre-professional dance troupe consisting of 21 student members, ages 13 to 18. Dancers perform a range of styles, including hip hop, jazz, ballet and contemporary.

Jennifer Polins, Artistic Director for the Catalyst Dance Company, said this performance, called “Document the Absence,” is a longstanding tradition.

“(The audience) will be seeing about 15 different pieces,” Polins said. “They are mostly choreographed by students, mentored by me, and some professional guests.”

Polins said there’s a bit of a German influence in this year’s show, as the professional choreographer being brought in hails from Germany.

“There’s also video projection that’s ambient – used as background and support for the dancers, which is created by a German videographer,” Polins said. “We have a choreographer on our faculty that did a house/hip hop piece. We also have a faculty member performing a duet. It’s really inspiring, family-friendly, high quality dance.”

In addition to two evening performances, there is a matinee performance called “Dance for Every Child.”

“It’s more of a showcase of PVPA’s dance department,” she said. “There are three dance companies right now at PVPA.”

Polins said the group of students in Catalyst comes from various backgrounds, making the company unique.

“There are a lot of incredible things about the company, but to me, it’s the diversity,” she said. “Most kids go to dance school in their local community with kids from their own community, and do certain types of dance. This group brings kids from different economic backgrounds and different towns – Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton. We’re mixing genre and style and strength.”

Polins said the company also encourages dancers’ personal growth.

“It’s a company that supports development of students’ choreography,” she said. “They’re not just taught to be dancers, but also to find their own artistic voice.”

The performance offers the community an opportunity to see future professionals in the dance world.

“This is our 17th year,” Polins said. “It’s been growing and producing artists that have gone out into the world as performers, choreographers and dance administrators.”

The dancers are excited to perform and hope the audience enjoys it.

“The kids would say they want people to feel touched, moved, different than when they walk in,”Polins said. “We’re hoping by showing this different range of approaches, concepts and ideas, we hope people walk away wanting to see more, and maybe wanting to dance themselves.”

“Document the Absence” is Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. The “Dance for Every Child” matinee is Saturday, April 11 at 2 p.m. All shows are at The Academy of Music, 274 Main Street, Northampton. Advanced tickets are $12 for general audiences, $10 for seniors and military, and $6 for students and children under 12. Reservations can be made by calling 413-584-9032 x105 or by emailing boxoffice@academyofmusictheatre.com.

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