No Nymphs, Please


During rehearsals, what choreographers and their dancers imagine in the way of costumes are not necessarily the same. When Paul Taylor was readying his new Arabesque—which has its local premiere February 29, opening night of his company’s two-week City Center run—some of the troupe saw woods and nymphs, or so they told spectators at a costumeless preview. The bosky view, however, wasn’t Taylor’s—or that of Santo Loquasto, the outfit’s outfitter. Taylor calls his dancers “good sports” and says that “they don’t usually volunteer their responses.” He keeps them “up-to-date with what is on my mind as I’m putting [the dance] together.” But he also admits, “I don’t know what goes through their minds. If they’re doing something at odds with the intent behind the movement, I’ll say something. If the women are going to have long skirts, it’s good to know ahead of time but not always necessary.” He doesn’t give much thought to costumes until “towards the end of rehearsal period or even after the piece is finished.” For Arabesque, in which there are no traditional arabesques, he told Loquasto, “Maybe the men should have turbans.” Of Loquasto’s modus operandi, which this time has resulted in a look Taylor doesn’t see as “recognizably Arabic,” he comments, “He just looks at the dance. With Santo, everything makes sense. I don’t remember asking him to redesign anything. He understands the work when he sees it. We’ve worked together so long there’s very little talk that goes on.” Taylor does say about costumes that “after a while there are some that I get sick of and change.” Then he laughs. “They’re usually ones I’ve designed myself.”

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