REVIEW: Dancing Through Life – A Look at Paul Taylor and His Work by Haley Sprankle

paul taylor dance co

“I can’t help it.”

That is dancemaker Paul Taylor’s response when asked why he choreographs.

Taylor became a professional dancer and choreographer in 1954 and has astonished audiences with his innovative pieces since then. In relying on the music and the world around him, his work is unique and draws audiences in with its relatability and infectious energy.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company graced the Koger Center stage last night and performed three of Taylor’s pieces, each with its own distinct theme and vibrancy.

The first, Diggity, was a lively take on dogs and their interactions with each other. Each dancer executed their solos with grace and wonderful stage presence and then melted into a wonderful unity with the ensemble that not many soloists can accomplish. The ensemble as a whole displayed phenomenal transitions from energetic, fast movements to complete control, giving the piece beautiful shape and dynamic.

The second, The Word, shocked audiences with its eerie vulnerability. The piece featured what seemed to be school boys faced with their innate sexuality and inner desires, similar to what is presented in Duncan Sheik’s musical Spring Awakening. The dance featured ominous shadows, a lot of contrast in movement and formations, and amazing characterization. The piece was attacked with such intensity that audiences were left silent in fear of ruining the mood set by the piece with their accolades.

The show closed with the third piece, Esplenade, one of Taylor’s most well-known pieces. The dance is characterized by a sense of nonchalant playfulness as take on pedestrian movement, giving the piece a sense of realism. Between the beautiful canons, effortless formation changes, and complete trust between partners, the piece exuberated energy that was the perfect end to the evening.

The USC Dance Company is taking on Taylor’s much sought after choreography November 6-7 at 7:30 at the Koger Center in their Masterpieces of the 20th Century concert in which they will perform his piece Company B.

“When looking at the repertory that would be included in the season Susan Anderson spoke to Kyra Strausburg and Stacey Calvert to see what Paul Taylor work they suggested we look into.  Without hesitation both replied Company B. It is a work that was created for professional ballet companies.  Being that our program is known for its strong ballet concentration we saw this as a great opportunity to expose our students to something different,” Sabrina McClure, the Administrative Specialist of the USC Dance Program, says.

With the presence of Taylor’s company this past week, dancers who will perform in Company B were able to take advantage of their expertise and experience.

“The residency of the Paul Taylor Dance Company included the opportunity to present our rehearsal of Company B to the Paul Taylor Dancers.  They were able to provide feedback and suggestions on the work based on their own experiences performing the piece,” McClure says.  “The USC dancers were able to converse with their counterpart from the Taylor company to discuss their role and how to take their performance to the next level.  This amazing opportunity will give new light to the USC dancers to further investigate their movement and performance in Company B.”   

For 60 years now, Taylor’s work has influenced and impacted audiences and dancers alike, and will continue to impact the world of dance and the arts.

“Paul Taylor has made modern dance more attainable and relatable. The topics he touches are profound and sometimes controversial yet relatable to any audience,” McClure says. “His choreography is highly sought out by many professional companies based in different genres.  It is not specific to just modern dancers or just ballet dancers.”

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CMA brings a Ceramics Workshop – Ladies Night Out (can dudes come, too?) – Arts & Draughts – Rahul Pophali concert at Baker & Baker

Columbia Museum of Art Adult Art School: Ceramics Workshop

Explore the expressive possibilities of hand-building and decorating functional earthenware pottery. Learn hand-building techniques using underglazes and slips to create a variety of surface textures and designs and how to successfully fire work. This two-day class is designed for all levels of experience with clay, and allows you to both create three-dimensional objects and address the issues inherent to decorating these forms. The objects you create from clay will become three-dimensional canvases on which you can explore your own personal style and artistic voice.

Instructor Kristina Stafford is currently working as education coordinator at the Columbia Museum of Art. Since earning her MFA from the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology, she has also worked as a Professor of Art at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA, and Artist-in-Residence at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY. Stafford has work in galleries from South Carolina to New York and continues to enjoy an active studio process.

Saturday and Sunday, November 1 and 2, 2014

Noon – 4:00 p.m.

$100 / $80 for members.

And …

cma ladies“Ladies’ Night Out” is a celebration of women, fashion, and art, featuring fabulous food, local artisans selling their work, and the mind-blowing sounds of DJ Alejandro. (But we hope the dudes can come, too!)Guests can peruse wares and shop with vendors, whose offerings include scarves by Alicia Leeke, purses by Mary Catherine Kunze, and jewelry by Cindy Saad, among others. The CMA’s deluxe gift-wrapping station will be available to beautifully package parcels. Attendees also have the opportunity to view the Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera exhibition. Hors d’oeuvres are provided by Earth Fare and a cash bar will be available for wine, beer, and a specialty drink prepared just for the occasion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

$10 / join or renew your membership that night and get in for free.

And …

Another Great Arts & Draughts

cma a & d


The Columbia Museum of Art hosts the next Arts & Draughts on Friday, November 7, 2014. Art, drink, and be happy! Special thanks to our sponsors The Whig, WXRY, Jam Room, and Free Times.



•Stephanie Santana
•Can’t Kids
•ET Anderson

•The Wurst Wagen
•Bone-In Artisan Barbecue
•Fair Food Truck


Enjoy a beer tasting of selections from Widmer Brewery of Portland, Oregon and Cash Bar provided by The Whig.
•Widmer Brrr seasonal ale – a hoppy Northwest-style red ale
•Widmer Hefeweizen
•Widmer Alchemy Pale Ale


•Unique perspective tour: “A Queer Tour of the Gallery” led by USC Director of Women and Gender Studies and Jasper Literary Arts Editor, Dr. Ed Madden.
•Exhibition Tours of Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera led by Bauer Westeren.
•Dance: Rockwell-inspired dance demo by the Richard Durlach and Breedlove dance team – (catch Durlach & Breedlove at the Nov, 21st JAY Awards ~ Big Apple Swing!)
•Film screenings of The Norman Rockwell Code, a short film parody of The Da Vinci Code.
•Dr. Sketchy’s Live figure drawing sessions at 8:15 p.m. and 9:35 p.m.
•Rockwell-Inspired Photo Booth
•D.I.Y. Art projects
•Interactive art
•Scavenger hunts

Friday, November 7, 2014

7:00 – 11:00 p.m.

$8 / $5 for members / join or renew your membership that night and get in for free.

And …

Baker & Baker Presents the Art of Music


The Columbia Museum of Art Hosts an Evening with Tabla Master Rahul Pophali



The Columbia Museum of Art hosts the next Baker & Baker Art of Music concert with tabla master Rahul Pophali on Sunday, November 9, at 6:00 p.m. Pophali is one of the most versatile tabla players in today’s younger generation. A dazzling performer and an incessant innovator, he has carved a niche for himself in the world of percussion music.

“Tabla is the principal rhythm instrument in North Indian Classical Music,” says Pophali. “It is widely used in different styles of Indian music and in fusion with world music today. The art of tabla-playing features spontaneous improvisations alongside renditions of traditional repertoire.

I believe my music is a journey, an adventure into the realm of sounds and rhythms. I draw inspiration from the audience and surroundings to fuel my creativity. I am looking forward to performing at the Columbia Museum of Art; a place replete with works of art will surely inspire the best out of me!”

Pophali began concert performances at an early age and, since then, has toured extensively in several countries in Europe and Asia. His desire to explore various possibilities with the tabla and an urge to experiment led him to perform with several reputed world, rock, flamenco, and jazz musicians across the globe. Passionate about spreading his art form, Pophali has conducted workshops and lecture/demonstration sessions for several institutions and music schools in India and Europe.

Sunday, November 9, 2014. Doors at 5:30 p.m. Galleries open. Concert at 6:00 p.m. $12 /

$10 for members / $5 for students

For more information on all these exciting CMA events and offerings, visit

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“The Other Place” at the Trustus Side Door Theatre – a review by Rachel Arling


The Trustus Side Door Theatre production of Sharr White’s The Other Place provides an intriguing  night of theatre that challenges its audience with questions about personal identity, the effects  of illness on relationships, and the conflict between memory and reality. The eighty-minute play  begins relatively straightforwardly as Juliana, a brilliant 52-year-old scientist, gives a presentation pitching a new drug to a group of doctors. Juliana’s lecture is practiced and polished, and she  radiates self-assuredness to an almost annoying degree. We have no reason not to take her at  her word. However, as this darkly humorous mystery play continues, it becomes clear that Juliana  might be a less reliable narrator than we first assumed.

Directed by Jim O’Connor, the show is well-suited to the intimate venue because the script gives  the audience a first-hand view into Juliana’s head. We experience events in the same fragmented  way that she does, so it’s appropriate that we are also right there with her physically in the small  space. The set is minimalistic, especially during the first half of the play, when the scenes switch  abruptly (sometimes mid-sentence) between various locations. The slightly more detailed set of  the play’s second half depicts “the other place:” the Cape Cod vacation home that has been in  Juliana’s family for generations. The set is supplemented with excellent use of projections that  serve as PowerPoint slides for Juliana’s presentation, and the projections also occasionally set  the turbulent mood with images of crashing waves. The costumes, designed by Jean Gonzalez  Lomasto, are simple but well-chosen (though I was sometimes distracted by the clomping sound  of the women’s high heels on the hollow wooden stage, but this is a minor complaint.)

Erica Tobolski in "The Other Place" - Photo by Richard Arthur Király
Erica Tobolski in “The Other Place” – Photo by Richard Arthur Király

The cast is comprised of four capable actors whose chemistry together increases as the play goes on. As Juliana, Erica Tobolski must carry the show. She navigates the highs and lows  of the complex character with dexterity, understanding that Juliana uses her acerbic wit and  authoritative demeanor as coping mechanisms that help her to grasp at the vestiges of control  over her life. Like the character of Vivian in Margaret Edson’s Wit, Juliana often breaks the fourth  wall to share the details of her struggle with an illness that might be cancer. Tobolski successfully  establishes a close relationship with audience members as she enlists our help to try to make  sense of her “episodes.” I do wish that some of the transitions between the different scenes and  audience addresses were clearer; however, I recognize that the blurred transitions might be a  directorial choice intended to illustrate the muddled nature of Juliana’s experience.

Bryan Bender plays Ian, Juliana’s husband. (Or is he her “soon-to-be-ex?” This is one of the  mysteries the playwright wants us to contemplate.) Both physically and emotionally, Bender  provides a solid, patient, and grounded presence compared to Tobolski’s agitated restlessness;  their relationship dynamic reminds me of the couple from Next to Normal in more ways than one.  Bender and Tobolski do their best work together during the climactic flashback scene that takes  place at “the other place.”

(L-R) Bryan Bender, Erica Tobolski, Jennifer Moody Sanchez - Photo by Richard Arthur Király
(L-R) Bryan Bender, Erica Tobolski, Jennifer Moody Sanchez – Photo by Richard Arthur Király

G. Scott Wild and Jennifer Moody Sanchez play the other men and women in the show. Wild has  the play’s two smallest roles, but he brings them to life with his typical skillful energy. Sanchez  plays three different characters: Juliana’s doctor, Juliana’s distant adult daughter, and a stranger.  She makes distinctive choices for each one, but I liked her best as the stranger. The scene  between Juliana and the stranger is hilariously entertaining because of the ridiculous situation  and the way the two actors react to one another. More importantly, though, the scene provides a  touching example of an empathetic connection between two people who have never met before. The stranger shows kindness to Juliana even though it doesn’t come easily to her because she is  dealing with myriad issues of her own. The two women are united by their suffering in “the other  place,” and sometimes the formation of such a connection is enough to help both of them start  the healing process.

Erica Tobolski and Jennifer Moody Sanchez - Photos by Richard Arthur Király
Erica Tobolski and Jennifer Moody Sanchez – Photos by Richard Arthur Király

This production of The Other Place, which runs through November 1, is worth seeing. Don’t  expect to sit back in your seat and relax, though; the show requires its audience to watch actively  and make judgments about what’s happening. But doesn’t all effective art do that?

~ Rachel Arling

The Other Place runs through Saturday, November 1st in The Richard and Debbie Cohn Trustus Side Door Theatre (although the closing Saturday night is currently sold out.) The doors and box office open thirty minutes prior to curtain, and all Trustus Side Door tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students.  Reservations can be made by calling the Trustus Box Office at (803) 254-9732, and tickets may be purchased online at  The Richard and Debbie Cohn Trustus Side Door Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, behind the Gervais St. Publix. Parking is available on Lady Street and on Pulaski Street.  The Trustus Side Door Theatre entrance is through the glass doors on the Huger St. side of the building.

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