By Walter Rutledge
The Paul Taylor Dance Company 2012 season is now underway at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. The three-week season will offer twenty two works including three New York premieres The Uncommitted, Gossamer Gallants, and House of Joy. The Saturday March 17 evening performance was a refreshingly diverse program that ranged from trademark Taylor abstract narratives to unexpectedly entertaining dance/theatre. The result was an evening the not only inspiring, but a great deal of fun.
In Cloven Kingdom Taylor was able to create his own kingdom. The work began with the baroque music of Arcangelo Corelli, and an onstage cast of female performers dressed in elegant evening gowns. Soon the rhythmic elements of another music by began to filter in. The lifted and flowing movement was augmented with more grounded and primal dancing, which visually was in direct contrast to opening imagery.
The work has moments of choreographic brilliance. These include the section dance by the men featuring Jeffrey Smith, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak and Francisco Graciano; and a female duet danced by Amy Young and Laura Halzack featuring reflective headpieces, which added the element of dancing light. By the end of the work the kingdom of light reigned supreme.
House of Joy is Paul Taylor as dance theatre. He is deliciously dark in a Dickens sort of way. This seedy tale is set around the activities at a brothel, and is revealed with Taylor’s unmistakable style and wit. Santo Loquasto’s set and costumes established that in this part of town these women were not whores - they were “hoes”.
The work is void of his lofty signature movement. It is much more directorial and relaxes into masterful storytelling. This character driven work not only displays Taylor’s range as a choreographer, but it also showcases the dancers ability to successfully translate it into an entertaining theatre work.
If we can call House of Joy dark then Big Bertha would be downright evil. Told in flashback the story starts after the carnage . We are soon introduced to an idyllic picture perfect family enjoying an evening at the carnival. After they decide to play a mechanic doll named Big Bertha we soon realize that in the words of American humorist Erma Bombeck,“The grass is always greener over the septic tank.”
The characters transform before ours eyes. A loving wife, performed by Michelle Fleet, goes from being sexual repressed to provocative. Michael Trusnovec’s devoted father and husband is a spouse batterer and child molester. The loss of innocence in the daughter played by Eran Bugge is devastating.
Amy Young as the mechanical doll is demonic. Big Bertha becomes a metaphor for the prevailing truth uncloaked, a sideshow oracle. She strips away the facades to reveal a foreboding and macabre reality. Originally choreographed in 1970 the underlying social statement is still relevant today.
Beloved Renegade set Francis Poulenc’s Gloria is moving poetry. Inspired by the Walt Whitman poem Leaves of Grass the work returns to the classic Taylor canon. There are many adagio sections and he takes full advantage. His hallmark subtle yet keen sense of musicality manifests brilliantly throughout, and the ending tableau featuring Laura Halzack and Michael Trusnovec is visual stunning.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company season continues at the David Koch Theater for two more weeks. For the complete schedule of performances and repertoire visit www.ptdc.com. Ticket prices for all performances are $10, $25, $50, $60, $75, $100 and $150 and can be purchased by visiting www.ptdc.org/tickets.
In Photo 1)Laura Halzack and Michael Novak 2) Jeffrey Smith, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak and Francisco Graciano 3) Cloven Kingdom cast 4) Robert Kleinendorst and Heather McGinley 5) Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young 6) Michael Trusnovec, Eran Bugge, and Amy Young
Photos By 1,3,4,5,6) Paul B. Goode 2) Tom Caravaglia