PAUL TAYLOR DANCE CO./ESPLANADE
April 5, 2012
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s matinee performance in its new Lincoln Center digs
was short on dance, choosing instead to focus on his more theatrical works.
The show opener “Oh, You Kid!” is a slice of
Americana set to ragtime tunes that references popular period dances of the early
1900s. Surprisingly, the work was only choreographed in 1999; dressed in black
and white swim costumes, the work relies heavily upon obviously dated humor.
In one section a grown man comes crawling onto the stage dressed as a baby
and manages to interfere with a woman’s attempt to marry the reluctant father.
The movements that link the patches of period dancing are quite basic; there is a
repeated reference to a slowly rotating attitude—a position where one leg is held
out at an angle either in front or behind demonstrating a bend at the knee. Much of
the time, however, the dancers merely walk or run around the space.
Choreographed in 1970, “Big Bertha” is a shockingly bold look at incest and rape
hidden behind the appearance of a simple carnival amusement. Dressed in a shiny
gold suit with a red cape and jaunty hat, Amy Young portrayed the namesake doll
that eerily comes to life, executing the mechanical movements with precision and a
disconcerting intensity that foreshadows the role the doll will play in destroying the
Eran Bugge displays a youthful exuberance when she first gets
to dance with the doll, which makes her disheveled and bloodied return all the more
poignant. Long-time Taylor dancer Michael Trusnovec and the lovely Fleet were also
well cast in this uncomfortable work that leaves you squirming in your seat.
sitting through “Oh, You Kid!,” the world premiere of the truly questionable “House
of Joy” and the bizarre “Big Bertha,” the opening strains of Bach’s “Violin Concerto in
E Major” swept through the theater like a breath of fresh air as the curtain came up
on Taylor’s signature 1975 work “Esplanade.”
The dancers looked joyous executing
the familiar patterns of runs and walks that constitute the majority of the piece.
Particularly thrilling was the final section where the dancers dart across the space
at a quick run before launching themselves in the air, only to catch themselves in the
last possible moment on an extended leg to slide and roll off the floor. Michelle Fleet
shone as the playful ringleader, handling the section of impossibly fast, continuous
little steps with ease and grace.
“Esplanade” received a roaring ovation, particularly noteworthy considering
the sleepy matinee audience. The appreciation for this piece was certainly well
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Jessica Moore