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Young in Perpetual Dawn. Photo: Tom Caravaglia, Courtesy PTDC.
Could the title role in Paul Taylor’s Big Bertha and Amy Young’s character in Beloved Renegade be more different? The expanse between a domineering taskmaster and a gentle, compassionate spirit is worth pondering when considering the talent and versatility of Young, who departs Paul Taylor Dance Company this summer after 13 years. They are on her list of favorites alongside Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal), Aureole, Black Tuesday, and Brief Encounters. (She originated roles in the latter two, among others.) “What’s incredible about Paul’s repertory is that the pieces are all so different from one another that you end up loving each one for its particular quality and challenge,” she says. In the company’s recent Lincoln Center season, we had the chance to see her conviviality and impeccable line in other treasured works on her list: Cascade, Brandenburgs, and Musical Offering.
Young earned her BFA at Juilliard, dancing with Taylor 2 for three years before joining the main company in 2000.
She looks forward to starting a family with husband and Taylor dancer Robert Kleinendorst. She will stay involved in the dance community by teaching both at the Taylor School and elsewhere, and hopes to set some of Taylor’s work on other companies and schools. “And of course,” she adds, “I’ll be sitting in the audience, cheering on the company.”
She has been cherishing her final months of performing. “I’ve been trying to be present, experience each moment onstage and off, and make the most of all of it. In other words, enjoy it and have fun!” She will miss the camaraderie of the company. “We are forever bonded by our love of what we do.” —Susan Yung
Cong in The Nutcracker. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet
Tulsa Ballet’s mixed bill in March was bittersweet for local dance fans, as principal dancer Ma Cong danced his last two ballets—the Phlegmatic lead in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and in the ensemble of Kudelka’s there, below.
Yet Cong is not leaving dance—or even Tulsa Ballet. He continues as the company’s resident choreographer as he pursues an increasingly international choreographic career that led to his being named a “25 to Watch” in 2006.
Cong’s athleticism, fluid grace, and obvious joy onstage made him one of the company’s most popular dancers, as well as an in-demand guest artist.
Standout roles included Escamillo in Amedeo Amodio’s Carmen, Puck in Wheeldon’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Businessman in Young Soon Hue’s This Is Your Life, as well as several Nacho Duato ballets.
Cong’s decision is “definitely the end of an era for the company,” says artistic director Marcello Angelini. “His ability to command the stage and the attention of the audience was immediately apparent.”
However, Cong says, “I realized all the energy I was putting into performing I could be channeling into my choreography. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I believe it’s the right one.”
A native of Yu Xi, China, Cong studied at the Beijing Dance Academy, then joined the National Ballet of China, rising to first soloist. He joined Tulsa Ballet in 1999 and was promoted to principal in 2003—the same year he began choreographing.
Cong has created 10 ballets for Tulsa Ballet, as well as works for the Joffrey Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Houston Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, and Richmond Ballet, which last year performed Cong’s Ershter Vals at London’s Royal Opera House. His works are scheduled for the upcoming seasons of Louisville Ballet and Australia’s Queensland Ballet. —James D. Watts Jr.