So when the famous American dance company – Paul Taylor Dance Company (Taylor 2) – checked into the town this February as part of their India tour, it came as a bonanza to connoisseurs of modern dance in a city known for its appreciation of any form of art.
“The reception here was so warm. We are moved,” said performers Justin Kahan and Hank Bamberger, two of the seven dancers, after a scintillating performance on the sprawling lawns of the ITC Sonar hotel here on Feb 25.
The numbers performed by the troupe mesmerized the audience as the gathering marvelled at the elegance, costume, choreograhy and physical fitness of the dancers.
They recreated on the stage with their graceful floating bodies and equal elan the joyous outpouring of love, positivity and the pain of dysfunctional families with its negative shades.
Among the male dancers Justin Kahan was most noticeable for his vibrant expressions and body movements while Alana Allende and Christina Lynch Markham shone among the females.
“There was a lot of body balancing and simple everyday gesture,” said Ruth Andrian, Director for Taylor 2, as the audience went through a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
The troupe performed in Kolkata after 13 years in association with the American Center and ITC Sonar.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company last performed in Kolkata in 1997 to much fanfare.
The dancers said they were overwhelmed by the Indian experience.
“Natural yearning and passion for dance is universal. But here it is amazing to see the connection between religion, beliefs and dance. But in India there is a spiritual side to it,” said Bamberger.
They said the highlight of the tour was working with the Indian dancers and students.
In Kolkata, the troupe collaborated with the Ananda Shankar Centre for Performing Arts run by the famous danseuse Tanushree Shankar.
The group held technique classes with local dancers in their workshop.
They held three Master Classes with young dancers from the city. The workshop was also be attended by five inmates from Sanlaap, an NGO whose primary focus is gender injustice and violence against women and girls.
The Kolkata tour also included an interactive session with Mentaid, an NGO working with the development of mentally challenged children, to explore and understand the role of music and dance therapy in this sphere.
The dancers loved it all.
“It was a great experience at the NGOs as well as at the dance centre,” said Christina Lynch Markham, an accomplished dancer of the troupe.
The dancers said it is always hard to survive as modern dancers in USA and they found connection to see the similar struggle in India.
“It is always financially hard to be a dancer there, and also here we found,” said Elizabeth Bragg.
From its earliest years, the Paul Taylor Dance Company took modern dance to America’s colleges, small towns and its largest cultural centers.
In 1960 they went on their first international tour and have since performed in more than 500 cities in 62 countries.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company 2 was formed in 1993, and is currently directed by Ruth Andrien, who danced with the Company from 1974 to 1983.
Taylor 2 continues the legacy of its predecessor by restaging Paul Taylor’s works for professional companies and universities across the world.
They continue to teach modern dance techniques and the Taylor style in schools, dance studios and in community gatherings, spreading modern dance in America and abroad.
Paul Taylor pioneered as a virtuoso dancer in the 1950s. Now in his 80th year, he’s still acclaimed for the vibrancy, relevance and power of his dances.
As prolific as ever, he continues to offer cogent observations on life’s complexities, while tackling some of society’s thorniest issues. He has set movement to music so memorably that for many people it is impossible to hear certain orchestral works and popular songs and not think of his dances.
(Reporting by Sujoy Dhar)