Left: Paul Taylor’s work has poignancy or humour and sometimes both; this
page: Rambert's Living
Toys is a dream come true
for Karole Armitage
Choreographed during the l I September attacks (Taylor watched the second tower go down walking to rehearsal) the work has caused many people to jump to conclusions. Taylor remains adamant that the dance is abstract and inspired purely by Bach's masic. but indelible images such as a mountain of limp bodies. coupled with the sheer drama of the piece inevitably cause the mind to focus on the tragedy. 'I can look at it that way too if I want.‘ says Taylor. 'So I can understand it. but I hope that a long time from now when 9/1 I is quite a way behind us. that the dance will still move people.'
Throughout his career. 'l‘aylor's reputation for creating innovative dance has remained constant -— hardly surprising given his early inﬂuences. .\lerce Cunningham's company had barely got off the ground when Taylor joined. but even then it was seen as a breeding ground for new talent. ‘The Cunningham company always had a strong tradition of people setting out on their own and exploring dance.’ says choreographer Karole Armitagc. herself a case in point. ’l‘wenty-three years after Taylor hooked up with Cunningham. Armitage began a four-year stint there. before moving on to form her own company and build an impressive choreographic career — the latest example of which premieres in Glasgow next week.
Both Taylor and Armitage are carved from the same rock — classically moulded then coated in contemporary. But while Taylor was inspired by the birth of modern dance and its mother. Martha Graham. Armitage tapped into a whole other zeitgeist. ‘It was the punk era and I was known as the punk ballerina.’ says Armitage of her formative time in late-70s New York. ‘There was a real rock‘n’roll spirit; rebellious but fun-loving. Everyone was hanging out together. from artists to composers to dancers — it was tremendously exciting. And then the 80s happened. Reagan was elected and everyone started thinking about making it. celebrity became more important — the values really changed.‘
Not that Armitage has done too badly out of celebrity. Choreographing Madonna’s ‘Vogue' video. Michael Jackson’s ‘In the (‘loset‘ and Sandra Bemhard's cult film. Wit/mu! you I'm Nut/ling can‘t harm a girl's CV. But Armitage has remained true to her roots. taking her ballet/contemporary mix to companies across the world. from Paris Opera Ballet to American Ballet Theatre. And now it‘s Ramben's tum. Mark Baldwin's first commission since taking over the reins from Christopher Bruce. Lil'ng 'Ibys is something of a dream come true for Armitage. Despite having worked with some of the world's finest ballet and contemporary performers. Ramben is virtually unique in its strong use of both dance vemaculars.
‘They're the ideal really.‘ says Armitage. ‘Because they have tremendous classical as well as modem technique. and they‘re just free — free to try anything and go anywhere.‘ Set to a darkly surreal score by Thomas Ades. Living You is described by Amiitage as ‘a voyage of life’. and with costumes by Peter Speliopoulos (creative director of DKNY). it's certain to look as good as it sounds — particularly when flanked by Jiri Kylian‘s Blackbird and Christopher Bruce‘s Ghost Dances and Hurricane.
Martha Graham said the function of American dance was to impart the mystery. humour. variety and wonder of life — and with Taylor and Armitage as ambassadors. her words are in good hands.
Paul Taylor Dance Company, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Fri 23 8: Sat 24 May; Rambert Dance Company, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 29-Sat 31 May.
22 May-'3 Jun 2003 THE LIST 15