Paul Taylor: Elegant, Genteel, Pretty and Fun to Watch

When Jerry Garcia died I remember thinking, “I wish I’d seen the Grateful Dead live.” Everyone talks about how amazing they were in concert and even though I was never a Dead Head I wish I had experienced it firsthand.

Under the direction of their 85 year-old namesake The Paul Taylor Company is something of a modern dance equivalent to The Dead. It’s impossible to briefly summarize Taylor’s artistic accomplishment and influence; In 1985 he received the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and he’s been the subject of multiple biographic films worth watching.

Taylor’s dances are engaging, enjoyable, and in certain ways, fulfilling. His dancers execute with physical modern dance virtuosity within a bound human range. They usually perform in bare feet, work with curvature of the spine typical to modern dance, and use some momentum in the phrasing. You don’t expect – nor will you see – a circus act at a Taylor show but that keeps open the space for a strong empathy with the performers.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company performing "Mercuric Tidings"

The Paul Taylor Dance Company performing “Mercuric Tidings”

This week at The Kennedy Center the company is performing six better-known works created by Taylor between 1975 and 2008. One critic recently panned the new Taylor choreography “Sulliviniana” (2016) writing, “the whole thing feels like ballet – elegant, genteel, pretty – without generating any fun”. Taylor’s older works cannot be criticized in the same way; they are elegant, genteel, pretty, and they do generate a lot of fun. Continue reading “Paul Taylor: Elegant, Genteel, Pretty and Fun to Watch”

Community Shocked by Loss of Dance Institute of Washington Founder Fabian Barnes

Under mysterious circumstances, Washington, D.C. has lost one of its most dynamic leaders, Fabian Barnes, founder of the Dance Institute of Washington (DIW). More than an arts leader, Mr. Barnes used dance to positively impact a generation of Washington children.

Fabian Barnes in 2008 when he was named one of the Washingtonians of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine (Photo: Matthew Worden)

Fabian Barnes in 2008 when he was named one of the Washingtonians of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine (Photo: Matthew Worden)

Awards for Barnes included Oprah’s “Points of Light” in 2000, CNN’s “American Heroes” in 2001, and Washingtonian Magazine’s “Washingtonians of the Year” in 2008. Barnes built DIW from a modest summer program to a full time dance academy with its own building in Columbia Heights serving students of all ages, abilities, and ambitions. In 2003 DIW received DC’s Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Arts Education and in 2011 the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, awarded by the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Arthur Espinoza, executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, wrote, “I was deeply saddened when I received the news of Fabian Barnes’ death. Fabian was admired and respected by the arts community in the Washington, DC area and this is truly a great loss. My sincere sympathy and condolences to the Barnes family and that of the Dance Institute of Washington.” Continue reading “Community Shocked by Loss of Dance Institute of Washington Founder Fabian Barnes”

Where Will the New Washington Redskins Stadium Be Located

Washington and the sporting world was abuzz this week with release of concept drawings for a new Washington Redskins football stadium including a moat. The idea of a moat around a football stadium seems mostly stupid until you think about it and the big question remains: where will this stadium be located?

Despite some evidence to the contrary the Redskins could naturally end up back in Washington, D.C. and perhaps these stadium designs hint at waterway access. Is it possible that on on the other side of that stadium moat is the Anacostia? Two potential sites along the Anacostia could allow kayaker access from the river. For anyone who grew up in the era of Barry Bonds, watching kayakers on tv chase his home run balls in Covey Cove, the vision of waterway access may be enticing.


Kayakers in front of RFK stadium. Photo courtesy Kingman Island Blues Festival:

Football stadiums are immense buildings with a depth of amenities that are used for their primary purpose only eight to ten days a year. The new Los Angeles Rams stadium, being built in the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, is designed for secondary use as a concert venue and by film studios for release parties and contains two year-round nightclubs (located in the stadium’s corners.) That site is an old racetrack, and there are available closed or closing tracks in the flight path of Dulles International Airport. Virginia’s governor has gone so far as to say, “It’s where they belong.”

Did you like the music in the movie Gravity? Watch this video fly-through of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, opening in 2017. 

Smart money is probably that the team stays in Maryland, possibly even on the same site (as the Yankees did for their new stadium.) To their economic benefit, The Baltimore Symphony created a southern home in Bethesda at Strathmore serving the wealthy suburbs of DC. With their home in Maryland the Washington team competes favorably with Maryland’s Baltimore Ravens for hometown allegiance. The Washington team would lose that comparative advantage with a move to the District or Virginia, and there’s no similar competition to the South. Continue reading “Where Will the New Washington Redskins Stadium Be Located”