Paul Taylor Dance Company 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dance Company (USA)
Prolific, octogenarian dance-maker Paul Taylor has enjoyed an exceptionally long career. He is perhaps the last of the iconic pillars of American modern dance in the post-Martha Graham era. His dances always appealed to large audiences, who were attracted to the fluidity, musicality and easily digestible treatment of occasional social comment.
Almost 20 years have passed since the company’s previous tour to Israel, and we still received typical Taylor materials ranging from the basic, rather simplistic and trivial to the sublime and sophisticated.
The evening opened with Changes
set to songs of The Mamas and the Papas, which, apart from “California
Dreaming,” have limited appeal to begin with. The piece purports to
depict the spirit of the ’60s, but without a grain of its true
socio-political complexity. Even the dancers looked a bit jaded, going
through the motions, leaning on stereotypical images. It also suffered
from its inner fragmented structure, set to a string of various tunes
which left little room for in-depth treatment of its spatial, thematic
or spiritual materials.
Fortunately the evening picked up with Piazzolla Caldera
(1997) and its superb musical rendition by Gidon Kremer. One cannot
stay indifferent to Piazzolla’s pungent melodies and the company had a
chance to express its sensual, sassier side, while Taylor’s creativity
seemed better focused.
The surprising highlight of the evening, though – and one that left a favorable aftertaste – was Promethean Fire
(2002). The work, one of the best produced by Taylor, achieved juxtaposed objectives – to go back and progress forward.
Stylistically, it goes way back to the earlier sources of modern dance
and reveals the traces of its roots as far as the aestheticism of
Nijinska, and some postures that would have pleased Mary Wigman of
pre-war German expressionist dance.
In a somber setting, elegant costumes and timeless music of Johann
Sebastian Bach, Taylor explores anew aspects of the neoclassical
approach to more lucid group structures and values such as symmetry and
other geometrical forms, and manages to evoke an earlier age while
somehow producing a more relevant, age-defying creation.
Taylor wasn’t marked as a ground-breaker in the true sense of the word,
but as a master of pleasing, with rather safe, all-American modern
dance. In that context, his Promethean Fire
was a really beautiful, uplifting surprise.
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