Paul Taylor Dancemaker
Docurama // Unrated // $29.95 // February 29, 2000
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted June 11, 2001
M O V I E
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
As the old saying goes, "talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Talking about dancing seems almost as futile. In the dramatic world of professional dancing, however, there is a lot to talk about and Paul Taylor Dancemaker (1998) does a fine job of discussing the lives and struggles of legendary choreographer/dancer Taylor and the members of his dance company while stepping out of the way of the dancing and letting it speak for itself. And the dancing, even to those with little interest in modern ballet, is pretty impressive. Taylor's style pushes the boundaries of what is expected from dance but never appears pretentious or overly surreal. This isn't just dance that looks pretty. Taylor uses the movements of his dancers to comment on the music and create narrative and atmosphere.

Taylor himself was a featured dancer for decades and some of his classic pieces are shown here in archival footage. In one particularly effective sequence footage from several performances of Taylor's Aurole is intercut with footage of one of the members of his current company performing the same piece.

Dancemaker also portrays the complex emotional struggles of the dancers, from Taylor's loss of a collaborator to AIDS to his decision to fire a popular member of his troupe. Perhaps the sequence that best illustrates the perseverance of the dancers comes during a trip to India when the sound system suddenly fails. The dancers, without missing a beat, continue the act for several silent minutes while the backstage crew tries to find the source of the problem. When the sound system regains power, the battery-powered Mini Disc player continues where it should be revealing that the dancers have kept perfect time throughout the disturbance. It is an amazing feat but is par for the course for such a professional outfit.

VIDEO:
The picture is full-frame and looks ok. The colors are muted and the sharpness is nothing spectacular but the camera work is excellent. The dances are captured beautifully.

AUDIO:
The 2.0 soundtrack and is fine. It isn't created with any particular flair, but it gets the job done. The mostly classical music used in the performances sounds good.

EXTRAS:
There are some text-based extras with bios and other information. A trailer for Dancemaker is also included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Dancemaker is an interesting and well-made documentary that should please fans of serious dance and newcomers.

Other ballet reviews:
New York City Ballet Workout

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at buskerdog@yahoo.com


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