The Buzz, 2-4: Last Look
Taylor Cuts Jacobs after 23 Years; Jones Schools Times
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2004 The Dance Insider
A month before the opening
of his New York season and less than a month after the resignation
of executive director Ross Kramberg, Paul Taylor has fired his second
most devoted administrative worker after Kramberg, publicist Ellen
Jacobs, Jacobs said yesterday.
"I had worked for the
Taylor Company for 23 years," Jacobs said, "and was fired last week,
a month before the City Center season, for a string of rational
reasons including, but not limited to: lack of loyalty, insufficient
knowledge of the repertory, failure to get coverage, particularly
in The New York Times, as well as general incompetence and illiteracy.
I guess I pulled the wool over the company's eyes for a quite a
while, huh? -- even the genius himself."
Asked why she was fired,
Taylor's general manager, John Tomlinson, insisted, "No one said
she was fired. After a long and very successful relationship, the
Paul Taylor Dance Company decided not to continue working with Ellen
Jacobs Associates. A press release announcing our choice for future
representation will be in your hands shortly."
A legend in dance, Jacobs
has counted among her clients Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, the
France Moves festival and, currently, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bill
T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Joyce Theater, and the Lyon
"She's the best," Yorgos
Loukos, Lyon's artistic director, told the Dance Insider in Paris
last night after his company premiered Mats Ek's "Fluke" at the
Theatre de la Ville - Sarah Bernhardt. "If she really has been fired,
it's a terrible thing -- for the (Taylor) company, not for her."
If the reasons for Jacobs's
dismissal by Taylor remain obscure, her devotion to her clients
has always been apparent. In a dance publicity environment where
many press releases lack authority, Jacobs's knowledge of and sincere
passion for Taylor's and other clients' work is always evident in
her press releases and pitches to journalists. Her record in placing
stories in the Sunday New York Times and elsewhere is unmatched,
and her ability to cultivate the Times's Sunday dance editors has
made her the envy of her colleagues. Current editor Fletcher Roberts's
interview of Jones appeared in last Sunday's editions, ahead of
this week's BAM season.
Jacobs's courting of
journalists, whether freelancers or editors, is never capricious
and always received as sincere, genuine, and, often, beyond the
call of duty. When Times dance editor Gene Lambinus retired, it
was Jacobs who threw him the retirement party. When longtime freelancer
and Dance Magazine news editor Joe Mazo passed away in 1995, none
of the choreographers to whom he had devoted his career were at
the sparsely attended funeral. Jacobs, their finest press representative,
rented a limousine with which to escort several DM employees and
friends of Mazo to the cemetery. Later, she convinced the Joyce
board to dedicate a seat in the theater -- O2, Mazo's customary
vantage point -- to the dance writer with a plaque, an honor usually
reserved for donors. But Jacobs knew that what Mazo had given to
dance was priceless -- a word which might be applied to her tireless
and devoted service to Taylor, which the company will find hard
If her dedication has
ultimately not moved the capricious Taylor, the dancers are not
blind to it. "Ellen has been a dear friend for over 18 years, ever
since I was a 21-year-old, jumping off of ramps in Eliot (Feld)'s
company," said former Taylor dancer, Verb Ballets director, and
Dancers Responding to Aids co-founder Hernando Cortez. "She also
introduced me when DRA received our Dance Magazine award. She was
always at our benefits and pitched terrific features to periodicals.
She worked pro bono on several DRA events and was instrumental in
publicizing our 'Dancing for Life' show. I love her dearly!"
.... Ellen Jacobs has not hesitated to tangle with journalists when,
in her view, defending her clients necessitated it. Her ferocious
defenses of Jones during past press contretemps is legendary. And
speaking of Bill T. Jones, tomorrow night at the BAM Howard Gilman
Opera House, legendary Jones/Zane alumni Heidi Latsky, Arthur Aviles,
and Sean Curran return to dance the roles they originated in Zane's
1987 "The Gift/No God Logic."Also performing on the same evening
will be Cassandra Wilson and Vernon Reid, lending their musical
gifts to a reworking of Jones's 1994 "Still/Here."
Last night at BAM, the
company was scheduled to give the New York premiere of "Reading,
Mercy and the Artificial Nigger." Notwithstanding that, as he notes,
the title is taken from the Flannery O'Connor story on which the
dance is based, "The Artificial Nigger," Roberts couldn't resist
asking Jones whether he wasn't "exploiting" the N-word "for commercial
"You mean am I being
cynical?" Jones asked.
"I guess you could say
that," Roberts admitted.
"Well, I'm a little
offended. That's an unfair question to ask me. You can ask that
of any artist who's trying to do something that's strong. We live
in a very mediocre world. It doesn't take much to shock people.
And quite frankly billions are made with the tripe that Hollywood
puts out. You put a pair of well-shaped breasts on a billboard and
a catchy title and you're guaranteed to make millions. I'm not doing
that, now am I? This is not an easy piece to watch."
In a world where government-appointed
FCC chairmen tolerate a network's banning of an ad critical of the
government (which has exempted the same network from media ownership
rules) on the one hand, then turn around and express outrage that
the network has revealed the female breast, on the other hand, I
say: Amen to you, Mr. Jones.
For more information
on Jones/Zane's BAM season, please visit the BAM web