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“Facts and Fancies: Essays Written Mostly for Fun.” By Paul Taylor….

July 15, 2013
Taylor

Paul Taylor Photo by Paul Palmaro

After reading Paul Taylor’s “Facts and Fancies: Essays Written Mostly for Fun.” I am now quite concerned for his sanity. I’m not saying he’s not sane, au contraire, just a little off his rocker, perhaps his top is not screwed on tightly, and his spoon’s probably bent funny.

In “An Early Interview” Mr. Taylor relates of a (I hope) imaginary telephone interview. He is awakened at 5am and is surprised to find it is indeed 5am. His interviewer, Bethpage Bulova-Twit from The San Bernardino Gazette, is unable to get an outright answer to any question posed. When asked about his creative process and how he makes dances he informs her that he must adhere to the strict regulations of the choreographer’s union which permits him from speaking of such things. “If not, there would be a lot of plagiarism if dance-makers went around saying how they made dances.”

….And that’s from the “Facts” section of the book. Paul Taylor newest book is broken into two sections, “Facts” and “Fancies” with the total 25 essays broken into 10 “Facts” and 15 “Fancies.”….Now if “An Early Interview” is in the “Facts” section, I just could not wait to get to the “Fancies”….

“Unlike modern dance, ballet is the kind of thing you keep thinking will turn into something worth watching”. This is the opening sentence to “How to Tell Ballet from Modern”. Mr. Taylors views ballet as a lot of tiptoeing and held positions whereas modern dancers are more fluid and a lot braver. He states the only time ballet dancers get to do anything interesting is when thy fall down. He also acknowledges that ballet is politically correct and can be enjoyed by anybody…”politicians, the moral majority, rednecked tree-top trimmers, drunks, women drivers, anybody…it’s a regular idiot’s delight.”factsandfancies_jacket

Now that’s from the Fancies section. “Facts and Fancies: Essays Written Mostly for Fun” is 167 pages of wit and humor.  Perhaps you might perceive just a tad bit of sarcasm (I say that sarcastically) but who am I to judge. After reading this collection of essays you become quite aware of how someone can produce such a diverse repertory as Big Bertha in 1970 and The Uncommitted, my favorite of all Mr. Taylor’s work, which premiered in 2011.

It seems Mr. Taylor’s imagination is able to bounce around in his head like a ball in a tennis match, from one idea to another and then back to the original idea. He gives unfettered access to many of his creative insights and leads you deeper and deeper into the labyrinths of his somewhat twisted (and I say that with affection) mind.

At 82, with no signs of letting up, he has been creating dances since 1954, in fact 138 dances to be precise. As to why he makes dances he writes, “To put it simply, I make dances because I can’t help it.” Mr. Taylor also confesses, “I’m not above flinching steps from other dance-makers, but only from the best – ones such as Martha Graham and Anthony Tudor – and only when I think I can make an improvement.”

Mr. Taylor is as skilled at writing as he is in dance-making. He weaves his words in ways that enables the mind’s eye to create astounding visuals.  Such as when he is backstage for a performance of Clytemnestra, and describes Martha Graham’s big toe as it stick outs from under the costume, her steady calm as the curtain rises and the music begins.

As a book person myself, someone who reads obsessively, it’s a great little book with French flap covers, so you never have to hunt for a bookmark. It’s in paperback, so it travels nicely and the pages have a nice textured feel.

Whether you know dance or not, whether you know who Paul Taylor is or don’t, Paul Taylor’s “Facts and Fancies: Essays Written Mostly for Fun” is a fascinating read and you will feel richer from the experience…

“Facts and Fancies: Essays Written Mostly for Fun”

Paul Taylor

Foreword by Robert Gottlieb

Introduction by Suzanne Carbonneau

Delphinium Books

ISBN-10: 1883285550

ISBN-13: 978-1883285555

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