Paul Taylor company dances to a new tune at Meany
A review of the Paul Taylor Dance Company performing with Seattle Modern Orchestra in Taylor's latest work, "The Uncommitted" — plus two other dances presented at Meany Theater, Oct. 4-6, 2012.
Seattle Times arts writer
Paul Taylor Dance Company8 p.m. Saturday, Meany Theater, University of Washington, Seattle; $20-$49 (206-543-4880 or www.uwworldseries.org).
Dance Review |
It's curious how much the sound of an orchestra getting tuned up can stir your expectations for what comes next.
That sound isn't often heard at the UW World Dance Series, where recorded music is the norm. But with a collaboration this week between Paul Taylor Dance Company and Seattle Modern Orchestra, it came into play.
The match of local musical talent with visiting dance troupe marks a first in the series, Meany Hall executive director Michelle Witt said on Friday. It's an innovation she plans to build on, starting with the UW Symphony performing in Compagnie Marie Chouinard's "Le sacre du printemps" in January.
SMO played an Arvo Pärt score live to Taylor's latest piece, "The Uncommitted." Created just last year, the dance is Taylor at his best — especially for those who like the more somber and twisty side of his work.
It opens with a flurry of group movements from which isolated souls keep being precipitated out in unexpected ways, each expressing his or her particular brand of loneliness in a succession of strikingly varied and compact solos. Having established each one of these "characters," Taylor then pairs them off.
But the pairings won't stick.
The variety of ways in which these lovers meet and then detach from each other (the process feels more clinical than "parting" would suggest) is as full of sharp invention and observation as those solos. All the pairings are male-female, except for one — Francisco Graciano and Robert Kleinendorst who, far from being lovers, are fighters, tangled in a violent bond that thrives on its own magnetism and repulsion. They make tough acrobatic work of it.
The mournful, meditative Pärt score, handled with a dreamily pulsing edge by SMO, offers an apt backdrop for all this ephemeral coming and going.
"The Uncommitted" was bracketed by two older works by the 82-year-old Taylor. "Kith and Kin" (1987) opened the evening. Set to a Mozart serenade, it's a study in education and emulation, as nine puppyishly eager dancers in white follow the sedate cues of two instructors in black (Amy Young, James Samson).
A section where Young and Samson lead one young couple (Michael Apuzzo and Aileen Roehl) through a game of shadow play and mirror moves takes a magical turn when the two students take over the initiative from their instructors. Heather McGinley's floating, scurrying solo work throughout the piece seems to propel the whole company toward leap-frogging, feet-waggling antics in the finale.
"Brandenburgs" (1988) was the closer. Performed to a hybrid of J.S. Bach's No. 6 and No. 3 Brandenburg Concertos, it places a heroic bare-chested figure (Michael Trusnovec) in play with two very different choruses. Three women dressed in black perform elegantly for him, and later partner with him. Meanwhile a hyperactive quintet of men, dressed in what look like skin-tight overalls with some glitter involved, circle around, leap, file diagonally offstage, ricochet, tumble and just generally can't keep still.
Young shines again as one of the three female graces capturing Trusnovec's eye. Late in the game Trusnovec — who seems just an observer of the proceedings at first — delivers a striking, slow, sculptural solo under an isolating cone of light. Kleinendorst, as the tail-end of the male chorus, gets a laugh by doubling his steps in one of those diagonal airborne exits offstage.
Funny, fanciful, shapely stuff — but "The Uncommitted" has the deeper impact.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org