Paul Taylor, Junction, 3 Epitaphs, Offenbach Overtures, Perpetual Dawn
It's always a better place when the Paul Taylor Dance Company comes to New York-a bona fide sign of excellence in the dance world. Not that the program was perfect; I had some reservations about two of the pieces, but overall I couldn't ask for a better place to spend a cold March evening.
The program opened with Taylor's Junction, a work created in 1961 to excerpts from Bach's cello suites, containing some of Bach's most recognizable music, along with its taxing technical demands. Like so much of Bach's compositions, it is lyrical and invigorating, yet, at the same time complex, forcing your intellect to reflect upon the music being heard. And while the suites are very accessible they can also seem remote, as if they are involved in a dialogue and don't want any intrusion. So how would dance fit into this distant environment?
Taylor has approached the work in an almost comical manner that never descends into whimsy. If you listened to the music at home you'd imagine the dancers wearing black and gray, looking austere and moving rigidly. Think again. Taylor costumes his dancers in different palettes: pink, yellow, orange and blue, enlightening us to the fact that Bach is multi-faceted and alive to different interpretations. Remember George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Doris Humphrey and their approaches to Bach. Perhaps Taylor thinks that pink and orange represent some rosy aspect of the Bach music that we never knew existed. It is borne out in the dance without a sign of severity or sternness. The dancers twist, turn, stretch, crawl and are turned upside down. Would Bach, a devout Lutheran, been amused or entertained? Maybe not, but then he's not around, so I'm not going to worry.
My favorite work, 3 Epitaphs, from 1956, is bizarre and to me, frightening. Six dancers, dressed in gray and sporting mirrors on their heads and hands, perform to early New Orleans jazz that was played at weddings and funerals in the southern United States. The dance is supposed to be funny. But this was choreographed in 1956, and when we think of what was going on: the Hungarian revolution, the denouncement of Stalin, the Suez crisis, not to mention the debut of the Huntley Brinkley report, there is, to me anyway, more than meets the eye. Taylor does not lay it out for us. We just laugh at the dancers and have a good time, but I have a feeling that this is not exactly a fun party.
A passionate and enthusiastic dance lover with other interests in books, theater, music and architecture. I have served as the director of the docent program at the New York City Ballet. I am interested in all facets of dance, and do not limit myself to only one dance brand, as I call it. This encompasses ballet, modern, folk and whatever else there is. Call me eclectic. |