PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY/Sunset/Diggity/Scudorama/Polaris
November 11, 2022
In college, Paul Taylor studied painting and that training, that understanding of positive and negative space infused many of his works, but none more than Polaris. A Taylor collaborator, Alex Katz, designed the set, a cubicle made of bars expertly illuminated or doused in darkness by Jennifer Tipton.
Polaris breaks into two parts. A visual pun, Part I and Part II are exactly the same except the cast, music and lighting are different. Without this knowledge, few people notice the switch. Dancers fill the interior of the cube, appearing almost suspended in space until limbs break through the visual barrier. Donald York's score grounds the dancers, infusing the exact same athletic steps with vigor.
One of the most visually beautiful Taylor/Katz collaborations, the wistfully romantic "Sunset" glides over a poignant score by Edward Elgar. Peach skies and black arabesque lines dotted in green float over a black guardrail lining one side of the stage. The luscious two-panel set consumes about 1/3 of the stage leaving an angular space brilliantly defined by the ballet.
Like a breeze floating through a mellow day, a group of four women in virginal white wander into the park where six soldiers in khakis and red Berets relax. Stirred by their presence, the men brighten, playfully attending to the ladies, and bending over to form a bridge for Madelyn Ho to cross.
Languid duets and touching solos suggest a youthful joy and nagging sadness. And like a vanishing dream, the ladies withdraw, leaving the soldiers to tie shoelaces, brush off shirts, lean on each other and gaze into an unknown future.
Full of delight, Katz's Diggity fashions an obstacle course by strewing cutouts of dogs throughout the space so it resembles a miniature golf course.
Cavorting between the pups, dancers bound and swirl to such an animated degree that the dogs seem to break into laughter. Although the whole cast excels, Lisa Borres' utterly charming presence speaks volumes through a supple torso, rippling arms and effortless flow.
In opposition to the beauty of Sunset and Diggity, Scudorama drains the bodies of lyricism and fills them with jagged, aerobic sequences that demand constant, quick jumps against steps scurrying this way and that.
Dressed in Katz's brightly colored leotards and tights, with some sporting ruffled white Tudor collars, the choreography travels on vertical and horizontal spheres. Scudorama opens on a physically exhausting and much darker expression of humanity.
Perhaps an indication of his mindset, when Taylor choreographed Scudorama in 1963, he inserted a quote in the playbill from Dante: "What souls are these who run through this black haze?"
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis