By Walter Rutledge
The Paul Taylor Dance Company continues it unprecedented three week Lincoln Center season at the David H. Koch Theater. The Saturday March 23rd program offered three works including The Uncommitted, one of his New York premieres. The evening once again displayed Taylor’s impressive range and creative prowess with works spanning over thirty years.
Roses (1985), choreographed to the music of Richard Wagner: Siegfried and Idyll and Heinrich Baermann: Adagio for Clarinet and Strings, is literally a poetic garden of elegant and romantic movement and imagery. Five couples remained on stage for the entire work. Throughout the dance Taylor established pastoral tableaus that were understated, and never overpowered the primary action.
With the same precision as Renaissance artists approached prospective he masterfully maintained the focal point on stage. Taylor arranged bodies symmetrically and asymmetrically with the assistance of level. The choreography did include many signature Taylor devices such as running in circular patterns and an athletic and slightly acrobatic exuberance in the partnering sections.
The adagio tempo allowed him to convey his depth and sensitivity, which was reflected in his unmistakable musicality. Taylor uses dance as a language. He clearly took great care in choosing the movement phrases and gestures, which were developed and embellished upon with great skill and fluidity throughout the work.
In The Uncommitted Taylor uses the group in exits and entrances to establish individual personas and change the mood. Dancers enter and cluster in the center of the stage when they retreat, a single person remains; the ensuing solo vignette introduces the character to us. This is Taylor using the abstract narrative to his best advantage.
The solos displayed intimate, private moments; and in many of the solo there was a sense of longing and isolation. His sincerity without overt angst reminded me of Anna Sokolow’s Rooms, (not the movement style but the overall intent). The dancers shared the space and interacted in duets, trios and quartets; but the relationships lacked a feeling of permanence or camaraderie, and in one encounter between two of the men the relationship was violent.
The final coda was an expansive unison movement for the entire cast. During this section dancers would leave the stage one by one diminishing the number, and Taylor would make subtle changes in the shape and pattern of the choreography. This continued until only two dancers remained. With a final gesture it was apparent that the couple would be unable to consummate or reconcile their relationship.
The art of programming is a gift. Last week Taylor’s new work, House of Joy (2011) was followed by Big Bertha (1970), the two dance theatre works complimented each other. In this evening’s program two works using relationship themes and adagio music were coupled. For a lesser choreographer this would have been an artistic death knell. Taylor has the ability to tell similar stories with different points of view and keep the audience engaged.
The sheer fact that there was a twenty-five year age difference between the works speaks to his timelessness as a dance maker. Taylor is not only exploring new territory, but also revisiting themes with a refreshed esthetic. Whether the work communicates all-consuming passion or unrequited love, satisfying relationships or empty encounters Taylor assails the most visceral with the visual ease of a master craftsman.
The program closed with his 1975 classic Esplanade. In this work Taylor takes the most simple, almost pedestrian; and turns it into sheer joy. The basic principles of velocity, gravity, and momentum are examined, as he creates something new and deceptively easy in appearance. This is one of the essential elements of great art.
The company begins their final week on Tuesday. If you have had not the opportunity to see this American modern dance icon- please do. The performance schedule is:
Tuesday, March 27, 7pm: Company B, Gossamer Gallants, Promethean Fire
Wednesday, March 28, 7pm: Syzygy, The Uncommitted, Esplanade
Thursday, March 29, 7pm: Aureole, Troilus and Cressida (reduced), Beloved Renegade, Promethean Fire
Friday, March 30, 8pm: Junction, 3 Epitaphs, The Uncommitted, Promethean Fire
Saturday, March 31, 3pm: Oh, You Kid!, Big Bertha, House of Joy, Esplanade
Sat., March 31, 8pm: House of Cards, Gossamer Gallants, Brandenburgs
Sun., April 1, 3pm: Cloven Kingdom, Big Bertha, House of Joy, Piazzolla Caldera
Ticket prices for all performances are $10, $25, $50, $60, $75, $100 and $150 and can be purchased by visiting www.ptdc.org/tickets.
Video: filmed in 1977
In Photo: 1) Eran Bugge and Robert Kleinendorst 2) Silva Nevjinsky and Patrick Corbin 3) Parisa Khobdeh and FranciscoGraciano 4)Michelle Fleet 5) Michelle Fleet and company
Photo Credits: 1, 5) Paul B. Goode 2) Lois Greenfield 3, 4) Tom Caravaglia