Dance aficionados in the Indian capital jostled each other to get the best places at the venue of the recent four-day Parampara Series: International Festival of Dance. Organised by internationally renowned Kuchipudi dancers Raja and Radha Reddy, the festival presented the best of lyrical Russian classical ballet, sensuous Spanish flamenco, graceful Kuchipudi by Raja and Radha Reddy, an intriguing Sufi music concert followed by the whirling dervish ceremony from Turkey and the sheer physicality of contemporary dance by the famous Paul Taylor 2 company.
While all the shows were a total sell out, the last day held a particular fascination for the audience as it recreated the contemporary dance scene of the US and that too by the famous choreographer Paul Taylor's Taylor 2 troupe. Seven highly talented dancers from Taylor 2 went through their moves in three pieces: The relatively classical “Arden Court” was a celebration of relationships between men and women, while “Runes: Secret Writings for Spells” was a dark, mysterious piece about the primeval rituals of the Druids, considered to be strong believers of reincarnation. The music for this piece was composed and recorded by Gerald Busby. At last came Taylor's most celebrated “Esplanade”, based on “families that can't connect, where romance dies when people change partners and other contemporary themes,” says Ruth Adrien, rehearsal director of Taylor 2. This avant garde piece was set to the music of the famous German classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach, which apparently had the lovers of classical music in the West up in arms.
To really appreciate the performance, one needed a short introduction to renowned choreographer Paul Taylor. Once dubbed the “naughty boy of dance” by American dancer Martha Graham for his iconoclastic approach to his medium which often sent confused audiences rushing to the exits, he went on to tackle controversial themes like marital rape and intimacy among men at war, the dangers of religious zealotry and condemnation of American imperialism. He also poked fun at feminism and looked at death unflinchingly. And yet as Adrien points out, since the beginning of his career, he has also made many “romantic, happy, sad and funny” dances to go on stage.
Eighty year old Taylor, a highly talented dancer, retired from dancing in 1974 but is a prolific choreographer. In 1993, he established Taylor 2 to ensure that his works would be seen by audiences all over the world.
Having made his first dance in 1954, he has amassed a growing collection of 133 dances performed by his celebrated Company of 16 dancers and the six-member Taylor 2.