Still cooking at 76♦
The Paul Taylor Dance Company, a perennial favorite at the Dance Celebration series, proved the perfect troupe to open DC’s 25th anniversary season. Taylor himself, one of the architects of the post-modern movement, still choreographs two works a year (at age 76), and this program demonstrated the full range of his 50 years of dance-making.
“Aureole” (1962) is full of Taylor signatures— the lateral piques, prancy jetés, homoerotic imagery, twirly skips and blossoming canon lines. These passages seemed rote as danced but were rescued with the solid physicality of longtime Taylor’s loose yet precise star Richard Chen See. Orion Duckstein, dancing a solo made famous by Taylor, executed steely control and passion, like a moving statue of Mercury.
Next was "Troilus and Cressida," Taylor‘s dance comedy par excellence, with the hilarious Lisa Viola as the hapless daughter of a Trojan priest awakened by three cupids to canoodle with Robert Kleinendorst while fending off the Greek invaders to the frenzy of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.
In “Company C,” Taylor’s remembrance of World War II, he somberly sent soldiers marching off in silhouette (actually borrowing a tableaux from a Busby Berkeley musical) with quiet dignity. There is no nostalgia in Taylor’s current view of the world, “Banquet of Vultures,” his 2005 dance <i>j’accuse that is reminiscent of Kurt Joose’s 1932 anti-fascist dance polemic, “The Green Table.” Michael Trusnovec and Kleinendorst are the sinister businessmen stalking the stage and systematically dehumanizing the troupes in Taylor’s scalding vision of a poisoned and murderous world with soulless soldiers in flax suits, contorting body slabs and snaking torsos set to a menacing score by Morton Feldman.
1997’s “Piazzolla Calderator,” set to the music of Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshky, displays Taylor’s great inventive way with character dance. The red-hued tango hall, set with a dozen hanging lamps swaying, made the Annenberg stage seem cavernous. Even within tango, Taylor’s choreographic variation smolders and flairs, mixing it up with other Latin dances like paso double, merengue, salsa and other flavors. The company corps, dressed in ’30s style dance dresses and high-draped pants, were so erotic and sultry that some muddy unison and the occasional mechanical drive hardly mattered.
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