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Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor—according to Newsweek, “the world’s greatest living choreographer”—will bring his renowned company back to Albany on Friday.

A swimmer and art student at Syracuse University, Taylor discovered dance in the late 1940s and switched his studies to Juilliard. By 1954 he had assembled a small company of dancers and had begun presenting his own choreography. Known by his peers as an intense performer, Taylor joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1955 and spent seven seasons as a soloist for Graham, while continuing to choreograph for his own troupe. In 1959, he appeared with the New York City Ballet as guest artist in George Balanchine’s Episodes. Taylor retired as a performer in 1975 and began to fully devote his time to choreography.

Fast forward to the present, and Taylor has recently completed his 116th work. His company, which launched its first international tour in 1960, has since performed in more than 450 cities in over 60 countries. Taylor has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1993 and an Emmy Award in 1992. In 1989, he was elected one of the 10 honorary American members of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

The company will perform Roses, first presented in 1985 with music by Richard Wagner, Siegfried Idyll and Henrich Baermann; Black Tuesday, featuring songs from the Great Depression and commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and a piece commissioned by the American Dance Festival, Promethean Fire, set to music by Bach.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform Friday (Oct. 4) 8 PM at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). There will be an informal talk with a representative from the company beginning at 7:15 PM, which is free to ticketholders. Tickets are $28, $26 seniors and $14 children. For more information, call 473-1845.

Ryan Adams

You’ve got to give Ryan Adams credit. Alt-country’s It Boy isn’t content to rest on his laurels—honestly, it seems that the guy doesn’t rest at all. Give him 15 minutes of downtime and he’ll give you a double album. His latest release, Demolition, is a selection of outtakes from recording sessions held over the past two years or so (sessions that produced several full-length, unreleased albums); and though it’s a modest single-album release, there are rumors that it was originally slated as a box set. Keep in mind that during that time, Adams also managed to release a knockout solo debut album on an indie label, and then an ambitious double record as his major-label debut. Pretty productive for a self-proclaimed “fuck-up.” The busy boy is keeping an appropriately busy touring schedule as well, and will hit Northampton’s Calvin Theatre on Monday.

As the frontman of Whiskeytown, Adams gained a reputation as an erratic and self-destructive performer, and it was implied that it was his behavior that was preventing his talented band from gaining more than a cult following. That assumption has been given the lie, however, by Adams’ post-Whiskeytown focus. After releasing Heartbreaker—a simple and stunning solo album of country-inflected melancholy—in 2000, Adams shot from the ranks of the underground faves to that of high-profile rock star, with pals the likes of Elton John (who publicly proclaimed Adams’s songwriting “genius”). His double album, Gold, surprised fans and critics alike with its unabashed ’70s-style big rock: Van Morrison, the Band, the Who and Captain Fantastic himself all were referenced in Adams’s grand swinging sprawl. Demolition kind of splits the difference, offering up spare, depressive numbers and uptempo pop-rock in nearly equal measure.

Asked to explain his hyperactive approach to songwriting and recording, Adams summed it up neatly to Mojo magazine: “I just really love playing guitar and coming up with these funky songs,” he said. “I like it the way people like sex and food.”

Ryan Adams will play the Calvin Theatre (19 King St., Northampton, Mass.) on Monday (Oct. 7) with opening act Tegan & Sara. Tickets for the 8 PM show are $20-$35. For more information and tickets, call 800-THE-TICK.

Cinema of the Spirit Film & Video Festival

Unique in its intent and scope, this festival attempts to present a diverse and challenging look at various aspects of human spirituality. From the workings of organized religion to glimpses into private, mystical spiritual journeys, the Cinema of the Spirit Film & Video Festival, in the words of its mission statement, seeks to “honor the work of filmmakers and videographers who celebrate the world’s great spiritual and cultural traditions.”

The program includes a mix of local premieres and classic films. Perhaps the most notable local debut is the 2001 release The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky, which begins the festival at the Saratoga Arts Center tonight (Thursday). In dramatizing the diaries of the legendary 20th-century ballet dancer, filmmaker Paul Cox has crafted a work that is not quite fiction and not quite documentary. Using the diary text—spoken by Derek Jacobi—as a starting point, Cox incorporates impressionistic visuals and elaborate dance sequences into a portrait of an artist in torment. (Nijinsky was sliding into the mental illness that would haunt the last two decades of his life.) The Mahabharata, English filmmaker Peter Brook’s nearly-three-hour-long version of the seminal Sanskrit poem, is featured tomorrow (Friday). Saturday highlights include Diary of a Country Priest, Robert Bresson’s austere 1950 masterpiece about a young priest making his way among the reticent and often unforgiving people of rural France, and the recent Inuit film The Fast Runner. On Sunday, take a journey with onetime Harvard professor Richard Alpert, who dropped acid with Timothy Leary and subsequently became spiritual seeker-teacher Ram Dass in Ram Dass: Fierce Grace—another local debut.

The Cinema of the Spirit Film & Video Festival features over 30 films and videos starting tonight (Thursday, Oct. 3) through Sunday (Oct. 6), which will be presented at the Saratoga Arts Center, Skidmore College, and the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Prices range from $7-$15; some presentations are free. Please go to www. saratogafilmforum.org for a complete list of films, times, prices and venues, or call 584-3456 for more information.


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