Performing Arts: Dance
June 16, 2022
New York City's teeming artistic atmosphere bred America's second generation of performing and visual artists in the 1950's and 1960's. Deemed a "naughty boy" by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor left her company and flipped a few cultural mores along the way. These early days of experimentation and agitation are on view at the Joyce Theater.

Spare yet colorful, Fibers (1961) butts against an atonal score by Arnold Schoenberg, wrapping dancers in bright, rope-like fibers by the avant-garde artist Rouben Ter-Arutunian. Contractions edge against hard, athletic gestures and runs break out, arms swinging high side to side, legs gulping space. Inklings of Taylor's technique are outlined while exhaling Graham's influences and perhaps even suggestions of Jean Erdman's mix of myth and design.

Before exiting Graham's company, Taylor choreographed Images and Reflections in 1958 to a score by another experimental composer Morton Feldman and designed by Robert Rauschenberg. Silk-like fringe runs up and down John Harnage's spine reminiscent of a bird or native American headdress; arms stretch and back extends. In counterpoint, Kristin Draucker in a puffy, 50's style dress of tulle goofily shifts side to side in a dreamlike surf.

A jaunty new work by Michelle Mazanales Hope is the Thing with Feathers captures the company's vitality. Line dances and contemporary tunes hark to some of Taylor's own joyful odes to catchy, popular music from various decades.

Another Taylor gem Aureole galvanized Taylor's assertive choreographic reputation. Set to music by George Frederick Handel, Aureole foreshadows the brilliantly structured, lyric pieces to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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