Paul Taylor Dance Company

Written by:
Arthur Lazere
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The Paul Taylor Dance Company has an astoundingly busy tour schedule which means that they very well may be dancing somewhere near you this year. If so, you won’t want to miss them. This company showcases the beautiful, intelligent, accessible choreography of Paul Taylor with a group of extraordinarily accomplished dancers.

CV caught a program of three dances, each very different from the other, each showing off the skills of the troupe in a different way. Cloven Kingdom, a work dating from over two decades ago, still seems as fresh as this morning. Cloven suggests the hooves of goats, perhaps, and there is a suggestion of animalish playfulness and movement here, hands repeatedly drooped in front of the chest like paws. But more broadly, cloven is divided, split and so we have music that mixes Baroque with contemporary percussion sounds and an equally dual mix of classical dance patterns, adagio-like grace, segueing into everything from a turkey trot to a conga line. Most of this is delivered in high energy movement, often verging on the gymnastic, showing off the great strength, as well as the grace of the dancers. With several dancers wearing geometrically abstract, reflective headdresses, a tone of light, witty play is set. From moments of swirling, twirling circles within circles to a demented high-kicking follies line, Taylor’s choreographic imagination sustains the madcap pace.

Airs, also a work from the late 1970s, is more classical in feeling, to music of Handel. Especially satisfying here are two pas de deux, a charming gavotte danced by Thomas Patrick and Kristi Egtvedt, and a high energy musette danced by amazing Paul Corbin and Lisa Viola. The speed and sheer physical power of these dancers is breathtaking. The piece is notably enhanced by the stage lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton.

The third dance on the program, a recent work premiered in 1997, is Piazzolla Caldera, Taylor’s interpretation in modern dance terms of the tango. The latter phrase is crucial here. The BeautifulCompanion was expecting something more on the order of Forever Tango, which is to say, a stage version of the dance of the Buenos Aires music halls. Taylor’s interest here is to use that sexy, syncopated dance as the theme for a modern dance work in his vocabulary. The tango elements of both sex and aggression are very much in evidence, but so, too, is Taylor’s often repeated theme of loneliness, with Francie Huber dancing an extended solo, shut out from the couplings going on around her. Ultimately she merges into a menage a trois with Corbin and Viola, a marvelously wrought dance exploring the possible combinations amongst three. Again Corbin and Viola display a chemistry and an energy together that radiates both light and heat.

Arthur Lazere .

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