Saturday, November 8, 2003

Paul Taylor Dancers give unforgettable performance

Dance review

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati debut of Paul Taylor Dance Company on Friday at the Aronoff Center was nothing less than dance as it should be.

Brilliant. Vital. Muscular. Precise. Unforgettable.

The three works on the mixed rep program were wildly different in spirit but had much in common: virtuoso dancing and mesmerizing choreography so at one with its music that well-known work by Franz Schubert and Johann Sebastian Bach seemed written for these dances.

The program opened with Mercuric Tidings, a showpiece for Patrick Corbin with Silvia Nevjinsky with a company of 12.

It's pure, scintillating dance, the color of the moment hot pink, the men bare chested, the women bare legged. As an introduction to the company, it couldn't be better, for we see they're attractive, athletic as well as gifted dancers.

The lifts are deliciously intricate, the choreography fleet-footed. Taylor's understanding of space and how to fill it is remarkable, but what really filled the Procter & Gamble stage was life force.

The Word, a heavy-handed comment on religious fanaticism (American style) is too blatant for my taste, but the dancing was simply extraordinary, the precision of the dancing completely compelling.

The company, outfitted in short pants-and-tie religious school uniforms, danced the part of puppets.

Symbolism included steepled churches and crucifixions, but the real power in The Word came as whirling dervish Lisa Viola danced into their midst to send the company into greater fervor before resigning themselves to their robotic fate.

The crowning event of the evening was Promethean Fire, which debuted in 2002 - proving that Taylor's genius isn't waning as he approaches the 50-year mark in his career.

Fire is a powerful and formal dance of large gestures set to grand Bach.

Both spiritual and architectural, the full company of 16 is dressed in elegant black velvet unitards, and they do call to mind pieces of steel standing in relief under Jennifer Tipton's stark lighting.

Is Fire a response to 9/11? They could just as easily represent the aftermath of war or famine or earthquake or any disaster.

There is violence, and chaos, and at one vital point the ensemble fall, one by one, into a pile at center stage.

Lisa Viola and Michael Trusnovec rise out of the heap to dance an adagio, and the burning light that plays on them suggesting a fire out of our sight but nearby.

But more important than Fire's destruction is the salvation it promises in the end.


Paul Taylor Dancers give unforgettable performance

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