Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 1, 2010

Paul Taylor Dance Company

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA
May 30, 2010
by Stacie Beland

Modern dance isn't for everyone. The beauty of it is, at times, unobvious. The clich├ęd impression most outside of the dance world have is that it's lazy. It takes patience and a willingness to accept the incomplete, the imperfect, the unanswered, and the undefined -- it can be difficult to relate to. Paul Taylor is a choreographer who excels at pushing the boundaries of modern dance. Showcased at this performance were three works that exemplified Taylor's innovative approach to dance.

The first work, "Public Domain," was a frenetic study of non-conformity. Indeed, this was the piece that seemed the most inaccessible to the audience (in fact, several of the patrons around me left in mid-performance). Set to a large collection of music samplings and spoken word, it seemed almost unrelated to the beautiful movement onstage. Taylor's work is perfect in creating the unexpected and engaging the mind, but there seems to be a limited amount of times a person can be thrown off guard until disengaging oneself as an audience member.

If "Public Domain" was a study in diffusion, the second two pieces, "Brief Encounters" and "Piazzolla Caldera," were the answer to audience members seeking precision. "Brief Encounters" was unpredictable, yet entirely relatable. The movement ranged from the flirty to the forbidden as the dizzying everyday struggle of the sexes is played out. The dancers, costumed only in underwear, presented real emotion in this powerfully beautiful choreography. If the audience found it difficult to relate to "Public Domain," it had no trouble whatsoever finding themselves lost in "Brief Encounters.

Similarly, "Piazzolla Caldera" was sly and sexual. With seedy barroom lights suspended from the ceiling, the audience was treated to tantalizing flashes of raw sexuality. Though a steady stream of connection in the course of this piece, the audience also saw a sense of loneliness, of isolation, as the dancers pair off and move through the courses of seduction. It rounded out the gamut of pieces presented during the course of the evening, and did so with exactitude of sensuality.