PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY GALA PERFORMANCE
March 18, 2012
March in New York City was awash with dance by America's modern dance pioneers. At the Joyce Theater in Chelsea, The Martha Graham Dance Company ran a strong season. Paul Taylor--a former member
of the Graham Company and now an undisputed master architect of the
modern dance cannon--made a grand gesture and picked Lincoln Center for his new home base. Both seasons drew enthusiastic audiences,
decidedly younger than your typical ballet crowd.
Happily, both companies geared tickets and programs to students. Although it's a no-brainer, not enough companies extend lower cost tickets to students. That's dance’s future audience and, it doesn't hurt to have all that youthful energy animate a theater.
Normally based at City Center, Taylor moved to an opera size stage, and if the brightly clad gala evening was any indication, the company is filling seats. A premiere spiked the center of a program that opened with the jubilant Mercuric Tidings (1982) and closed on the classic Aureole (1962).
“In Mercuric Tidings,” dancers break out in bright, straight-legged loping runs buoyed by swinging arms peppered with two-legged, bent knee pop-up jumps. Whizzing in and out of the open spaces of Franz Schubert's Baroque score, the women nearly float over runs that twist and turn
into one curved path after another.
A fragrant tribute to spontaneous agility and musical aplomb, “Mercuric Tidings” is followed by the premier of “The Uncommitted.” Reflective and poignant, groups convene then dissolve leaving a lone individual to draw long lines and silent turns. Aided by the equally wistful Arvo Part score, the striking images draw the audience in. A feeling of intimacy connects the dancers creating a movement mist outlined by a remembrance of people past, or choices not taken. With each phrase, “The Uncommitted” deepens and lengthens as dancers’ lunges stretch back and arms form curved frames.
In a nod to Taylor's roots, a brief film noted his tenure with the Graham Company where Merce Cunningham also launched his career. Through a series of comments by dance notables, the audience got a glimpse of Taylor’s remarkable trajectory from Graham dancer, to minimalist dance artist and finally, full-blown dance maker.
Aureole (1962) marks his coming of age as a choreographer and company director. It jettisoned Taylor to the front of the American Modern Dance scene. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Aureole's clarity
and pure delight is swathed in clean strokes of trios and quartets that play out in two opposing vertical spaces, contrasting high and low movements twisted around a curved torso. Handel’s buoyant music bubbles underneath "Aureole" demonstrating the physical power of male dancers while adding a wash of emotional attachments and playfullness. These folks relate through gesture and actions. There may be no story, but there is a narrative of camaraderie and devotion.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis