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Wednesday April 11, 2001

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A Modern Breakthrough

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By Lisa Lucas

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Paul Taylor Dance Co. brings modern dance to Centennial Hall

Today's world is very modern. We have modern art, modern interior design and even modern forms of cuisine.

But modern dance, despite its name, is often overlooked simply because people are not familiar with its form.

This weekend, however, the Tucson community will have the opportunity to familiarize itself with this contemporary dance style.

Lisa Viola, a dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Co., said she was first introduced to modern dance after seeing one of Taylor's performances.

"My early background, before I actually saw the Taylor Company, was in ballet," she said. "My first modern dance concert that I went to see happened to be the Paul Taylor (Dance Company)."

She added that her experience at Taylor's performance promoted her interest in the dance style.

"I was blown away by the choreography and the way that his dancers moved," she said. "When I saw the company for the first time, it kind of took off the blinders for me as far as thinking ballet was the only (style of dance). I wanted to venture into modern dance after that."

Viola said she thinks the main difference between ballet and modern dance is the way the dancers carry their bodies.

"I think ballet focuses more on floating," she said. "It's kind of a lighter feel. With modern, I had to learn how to drop my weight and allow the weight to make contact even below the floor surface.

"It (modern dance) is a different way of using the torso and finding other ways of getting your center off balance - but staying on balance," she added.

Viola said Taylor's style and creativity are the basis of the positive image the company's performances leave with its audiences.

"He tries to get the human side through an abstract piece - I think modern dance does that," she added. "And with Paul," she added, "he has so many sides to him. He does wonderful light pieces, dark pieces, fun pieces, and it's still ongoing."

Viola said the company's performance Saturday night at Centennial will include the showing of three of Taylor's "fairly new" dance works.

"We usually do three pieces a night," she said. "All three pieces are always going to be different in flavor - I think that's how Paul (Taylor) likes to program his pieces."

She said this weekend's performance will be a traditional Taylor performance in that each of the three pieces appeal to the audience on very different levels.

She added Taylor's "Cascade" will have a "baroque" and "very classical" feel to it, while "Fiends Angelical" will feature "dark" music by composer George Crumb, portraying the concept of good vs. evil.

A third piece to be performed Saturday night, "Piazzolla Caldera," was described by Viola as "Paul Taylor's version of the sauciness and sexiness of tango - without actually being tango."

Viola said she hopes people remain open to the prospect of modern dance and come to the Taylor Co.'s performance.

"I think some people shy away from seeing modern dance because they don't really know what it is," she said. "I know that before I went into modern dance, I used to shy way from it. (But) I think the interesting thing for people to see (with) the Taylor company (is) there's always going to be a piece that you're going to identify something toward."