Reviews now up on DanceView Times of the first first four nights of the Taylor season. Mindy Aloff's Letter from New York next week will be devoted to Taylor, and there will be at least one other review in next week's edition.
The opening night gala:Three Classics and a New Dance
by Susan Reiter
Gods and Demons
Expectations are not the best baggage to bring into a theater. Ideally, one would come to Paul Taylor's newest work, Le Grand Puppetier, without them, and look at the dance solely for what it is. But there's a tempting trap of expectation—several layers of it—in this case. As with any new Taylor work, one brings the knowledge that this is one of the great contemporary choreographic masters, one who has given us an amazingly rich, diverse and enduring body of work. With each premiere, one wonders: will this be another one of those that surprise and amaze? He certainly did that with his 2002 masterpiece Promethean Fire (more on that shortly), but he has also produced recent works that are slight and unmemorable, such as Dreamgirls (2003). When his inspiration is operating at full tilt, he produces dances that grow in stature with repeated viewings and provide fascinating challenges to new interpreters. Others, particularly the jokey ones, are at best cute but ultimately thin, revealing no new or hidden depths with subsequent performances.
by Leigh Witchel
Gods and Puppets
To open their season proper, Paul Taylor's company performed one New York premiere along with tried and true dances from the repertory. The newest work may not last as long as its siblings.
In The Beginning was originally made for The Houston Ballet last year and is Taylor’s gloss on Genesis and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. He’s dealt with the theme before in American Genesis (1973). I haven’t seen that work to compare it; the works that came to mind watching In The Beginning were his less subtle comedies such as The Sorceror’s Sofa (1989). Both are painted in broad brushstrokes; they’re amusing, but simplistic.
by Mary Cargill
Paul Taylor's [I]Sunset[/I]
Taylor’s typically well-balanced program combined light, darkness, and ambiguity. Mercuric Tidings was sprightly and joyful;Runes, dark and threatening; and Le Grand Puppetier, a premiere, was an ambitious—and not totally successful—examination of power.
Mercuric Tidings, set to (unfortunately) taped excerpts from the 1st and 2nd symphonies of Franz Schubert, is the Taylor people love, a deceptively simple romp through a gentle, attainable heaven. Beautiful dancers in raspberry leotards walk, run, and gamble to gentle, lilting music. Simple, yes, but at times profoundly moving; the possibility of a rich, pure beauty is exalting. Of course, even in Taylor’s heaven, there is no unalloyed joy, and the elegiac second movement had an outsider, Michelle Fleet. She was not deliberately or cruelly excluded, she just seemed to be wishing for something not quite there in that harmonious community.
by Nancy Dalva
The performance I saw at City Center was the first for the current cast, and it was particularly plain spoken and clean. For example, a marvelous duet for two men, when danced formerly by old Taylor hands Patrick Corbin and Andrew Asnes, had an interesting element of soft shoe, swift and graceful. The current performers, Robert Kleinendorst and Andy LeBeau, are less Fred Astaire and Gene Kellyish, and more like, say, guys from a gas station engaged in a fast, clear, light-footed drill. Both ways of performing the piece work, but it was perhaps the very lack of personality in the current incarnation of Sunset that made its structure so clear and interesting.
For within that Alex Katz flat world with its close-up vanishing point, Taylor exercises a whole different three-point perspective–a moveable one, as if the dance is a series of paintings, seamlessly melded. This notion naturally leads one to the thought that the work is cinematic, but it really is not, because the camera ruthlessly chooses what you see. Rather, Taylor takes the auteur sensibility and works it out in the theater, guiding you to see what he wishes, when he wishes.