Paul Taylor Dance Company appeared at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday and Wednesday at the intimate Amaturo Theater. The audience seemed ready for a program which consisted of works by Paul Taylor from 1975, 1997, and 2008.
First on the program was “Piazzolla Caldera” (1975) a tango-inspired piece filled with sensual overtones but fused with modern dance and lots of tangled legs. With music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, and sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto, it begins with two groups-one composed of women the other of men. They are looking away from each other -a situation that doesn’t last long. The women (dressed in short floral dresses) and the men (wearing pants and tee-shirts) meet and from their movements are quick and often intertwined. Relationships form but are quickly forgotten as easily as tango steps evolve into modern dance movements such as leaps with both legs bent.
Taylor combines the fast-paced speed of tango lower body work with his technique, especially in the upper body. This is an equal opportunity dance with the women being as much the sexual aggressors as the men. The low lights by Jennifer Tipton sets the atmosphere and signals changes in the scenes, which occurs frequently. Taylor takes liberties with the tango to include more movement in the upper torso and to infuse more floor work as when the dancers pile on top of each other on the floor. The stage explodes with their energy as ensemble work branches off into couples then solos. There are same-sex as well as heterosexual pairings. They dance, they watch each other dance, and they dance with each other in an intense atmosphere which only builds as the dance goes on. In the end, only one dancer is left standing but then she too collapses, all energy gathered together.
“Beloved Renegade“ (2008) is a dance-drama with a lot of depth. The program notes infer it is about Walt Whitman but it could also refer to Taylor as it is about an artist looking back on his life: on art and friends. The music is Gloria by Francis Poulenc and costumes by Santo Loquasto. Beloved Renegade is danced in pale-colored costumes against a blue backdrop. The piece is lyrical with flowing movements and dominated with a strong sense of connection between the music and the dance. It is a farewell as much as it is a memory. “Come children, come my boys and girls,” is a memory of childhood and of games we once played. The dancers are joyous their movements a celebration of youth. In the last segment the circle is completed; Whitman or Taylor it is a life well told.
The final piece is also the oldest piece on the program (1975) and has come to symbolize a favorite piece in American dance. It is democratic in substance and joyous in its execution. “Esplanade” uses pedestrian movements to convey the emotions of a community in motion. Set to J.S. Bach it examines the everyday movements of man. The dancers walk, run, slide, and perform fearless dives. Isadora Duncan spoke of natural movements and Taylor employs them – and how he employs them! It’s every man/woman on stage just walking, creating patterns and demonstrating that dance is democratic- it’s open to all. “ Esplanade” is a gem which still shines bright. On a rainy Tuesday night in Ft. Lauderdale, all left the theatre with the memory of Paul Taylor shining bright.
Reviewed at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on 20th of March