PAUL TAYLOR DANCE/Cloven Kingdom/Dust/Marathon Cadenzas/Black Tuesday
March 26, 2014
Finally, the dank winter smiled on the opening of the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s three-week season at Lincoln Center. Wonderfully mild weather drew people to a hearty evening of dance. Three works by Paul Taylor, the modern dance master choreographer, displayed his versatility and assuredness.
Baser instincts uproot courtly niceties in the 1976 Cloven Kingdom. Women in long flowing pastel gowns gently sway their hips and raise arched arms. Minute by minute, the graceful fluidity is overwhelmed by the jagged forcefulness of earthy angular desires. A high point arrives when four men sleekly clad in black tails enter facing front like one organism stomping and contorting inside a geometric dance form. Music ricochets from ornamental Baroque music to jagged, modern chord chards compiled by John Herbert McDowell. As the dance progresses, women don reflective Constructivist headgear by John Rawlings that simultaneously expresses galactic and medieval dimensions.
Unusual goings on accumulate in Dust where people are tangled amidst bodies, and cross the stage on their knees like acolytes. In counterpoint to the mess of bodies in tan leotards accented with crusty red spots, the excellent Laura Halleck stands apart from the pack twisting in fluid shapes over Francis Poulenc’s bright “Concert Champers.”
Good at corralling songs that evoke the ethos of a particular era, Taylor set Black Tuesday to the 1929 Great Depression era songs. Popular with audiences, each dance details in movement the song’s lyrics. Buoyant steps belie the ravaged lives. Humor streaks through “Are You Making Any Money” when Robert Kleinendorst slinks around in his best Groucho Marx routine while a parade of ladies taunt him. In a darker, more solemn passage, a pregnant Heather MacGinley lunges into wide bent legs revealing the tops of black-gartered hosiery and presses sideways, traveling without arriving anywhere special.
This year’s season premiere, Marathon Cadenzas extends the depression era aesthetics over the jazz music by Raymond Scott. Brightly lit by James Ingalls, the Charleston is stitched throughout the piece, joined to large attitude turns and open chests in Taylor’s depiction of the highly competitive Dance Marathons. Couples wear identifying numbers on their backs and sprint round until exhausted; some fall across the wayside while others continue to race against exhaustion. The cockily stylish costumes and set make this rather short piece feels like a tease for a larger, fuller composition.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis