PAUL TAYLOR AMERICAN DANCE COMPANY
March 15, 2017
It’s always a fun to see a program with classic works and a little something newer. The Taylor company has been reviving past gems, premiering new works by founder Paul Taylor, as well as adding repertory from other choreographers. In this program we caught Taylor over time, from 1978 to 2007.
The program opened with the beautiful and transcendent Airs, which is the oldest work on the program, and perhaps one of his most poetic works. Danced to Handel music and costumed in balletic baby blue leotards and skirts for the women, blue tights for the men, it creates another world that is both celestial and earthbound at the same time. As dancers take turns sitting on the floor, others pique in a low arabesque with a swooping arm to the sound of a soulful oboe; in the allegro passages they bounce and split their legs in sissones and Italian changements, all with an un-ironic joy. My eye kept going back to Christina Lynch Markham, whose fullness of movement and expressive use of her head and torso seems the right way to dance Taylor. Dancing balletic movement in bare feet, the effect in Airs is to completely demystify balletic form – these are real, accessible people dancing a highly specific and demanding technique, with both seriousness and humor at the same time. At the end, they settle into a simple symmetrical formation, their last open-arm gesture embracing both the sky, and us.
Lines of Loss from 2007 is based on a poem by W.D. Snodgrass. It is a strange mix of mourning solos with literal gestures and references, such as a dancer that runs in place, checks his pulse, falls and soon gets dragged off the stage by the others. Santo Loquasto's lined, black and white backdrop looms overhead like a heart monitor about to flatline. The dancers enter the stage one by one in silhouettes, starkly lit by Jennifer Tipton, circle and gather as a community that is reminiscent of Tudor’s Dark Elegies, but somehow purged of the deep grief caused by dead children. Jamie Rae Walker stands out in her solo, and the unexpected ending gives the work a gravitas it has built up to that moment.
Black Tuesday is a suite of dances to Depression-era songs, mostly carefree and charming, in period costumes by Loquasto, danced in front of a Manhattan Skyline projection by Tipton. Drained of any gritty political commentary, the dances seem to say, “people may not have had a lot then, but they sure knew how to have a good time” – perhaps a striking contrast to our own time.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson
- Nicole Duffy Robertson