Performing Arts: Dance
June 20, 2022
Paul Taylor Dance Company usually performs at such large venues as Lincoln Center, a fact that made their weekend at the Joyce in Chelsea a wonderful opportunity to see the dancers at work in an intimate space. The programming for this limited run centered some of Taylor's less performed work, along with mainstays of the repertoire like Aureole, and put them in dialogue with new works commissioned by contemporary choreographers.

Program B featured four works by Taylor, and a New York premiere of Peter Chu’s A Call for Softer Landings, which—given the rather immense stylistic differences—complimented each other incredibly well. Chu’s piece was much more narratively driven than Taylor's, whose work is marked in the grand scheme of modern dance for its departure from the storytelling style of Graham, whose company he danced for.

Chu’s sharply contemporary choreography gesturally evoked rich relationships between the dancers, from fraught to loving, violent to tender. Lee Duvenek’s duet with Madelyn Ho was exceptional, a carefully composed sequence, where she beat him with fists, knees, and elbows, in a thoroughly dangerous bit of dance executed with precise control.

Beyond Chu’s work, pairs of dancers stood out across the evening in dynamic partnerships. Taylor's work lends itself to geometrically athletic sequences, most clearly in Profiles, where two duos made a series of hard blunt angles, arms bent up at the elbow giving way to stern fists. The dancers were deft and careful as they lifted each other precariously on their shoulders or in gravity-defying leans, exemplifying the piece’s near two-dimensional staging.

Stunning in its simplicity Events II, offered an entirely different take on the duet form: Eran Bugge and Jada Pearman stood, sat, and lay across the stage in relative stillness, done up in dresses, up-dos, and heels. Besides the economical adjustments of their positions, the two were more moved by the soft breeze that drifted across the stage than by each other.

Aureole departed from these partnerships, as dancers dressed in bright white lept playfully across the stage to baroque music, in almost ballet form. Austin Kelly was a standout, his bright smile and saccharine comportment brought affective depth to a performance that could easily have fallen into empty cheer.

Paul Taylor Dance Company has been dedicated to the necessary and precise preservation of Taylor’s work since its inception. This program certainly demonstrates that, and additionally works to keep the repertoire fresh and in conversation with the contemporary landscape of dance with much success.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

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