THE PAUL TAYLOR AMERICAN MODERN DANCE COMPANY: Taylor and Tanowitz
November 18, 2019
The Paul Taylor American Modern Dance Company entered into its Lincoln
Center season full of fresh new faces and riveting new commissions. In a historic period
of transition for the company following Taylor’s passing in 2018, new artistic director
Michael Novak presented a company with a revived vision for its future.
The program opens with classic Taylor work, Airs.Accompanied by the Saint
Luke’s Orchestra, six dancers float onto the stage. Costumed in
Gene Moore’s elegant blue garments, the women’s dresses soar, while the
shirtless men in blue tights are a staple of Taylor masculinity. Soft, sustained pique
glides are effortless while petite-allegro is musical, quick, and clean. At times the
choreography scuttles, at others it slides. Soloist, and Taylor veteran, Michelle Fleet is a
true representation of grace and skill.
Pam Tanowitz’s all at once is a stunning portrayal of technique and swagger.
With reference to the title of the work, the entire company bursts in view
whimsically filling the space. Clothed in pastel green, blue, and yellow unitards which
are draped in a gauzy white cloth, costume designers Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme
clothe the dancers in garments which move even in stillness.
follows their own rhythm and score, with accompaniment by Bach’s Violin Concerto and
Oboe Sonata simply floating over them. Tanowitz’s choreographic vision is carried out
with rapid sequencing and alert shifts of weight. The dancers’ technical abilities are
highlighted as the choreography tests them with syncopated jumps and shifts back and
forth into pedestrian postures.
Composed of continuous sections and uninterrupted dancing, the framework of
the piece is a welcome compliment to Taylor’s traditionally segmented work. Dancers
move from duets, to solos, to group phrases scattered about. They flee into
and out of relationships with one another seamlessly. Sometimes there is an
acknowledgement of partnership with a head nod or a hand gesture, other times they
are simply occupying the same space.
While this unending sequencing had the
potential to exhaust the audience, the dancers’ tranquil demeanor made it so that had
they gone on for hours it would have felt like minutes. Through it all, the dancers remain
calm in a humorous juxtaposition of exertion and serenity.
After completing a
challenging passage of sporadic footwork and gestures across the floor, the dancers
relax and shrug as if to say ‘yea... we did that’. Her structural choices, combined with
a precise and amusing movement quality, is what makes the piece shine, and
highlights this renewed company of dancers.
Closing the program with a sweet nod to nostalgic times, Paul Taylor’s Company
B is a quirky, fanciful, and sentimental tribute to war time America. A trio of women
harmonize their way through American classics such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of
Company B” and “Oh Johnny”. The structure of the piece follows the musical score, as
dancers move through swing, jazz, and classic Taylor movement. Though it references
the past, this closing piece of the program reminded Taylor audiences that this company
is a group capable of executing a wide array of repertory in the future.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri