Paul Taylor Dance Company


  • SF Performances Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,
  • April 26-30, 2017

Saving Graces

Congratulations to the dancers of the current Paul Taylor Company. Their skill, ensemble and spirit make this current appearance of the group a pleasure to encounter. Although two works on the program (Airs, 1978) and (Syzygy, 1987) have been seen often in past performances, this present group brings new vitality to the old works.

To sections of G.F. Handel’s Concerto Grossi Opus.3, the three men and four women tackle the familiar vocabulary Taylor has used in the last sixty years of dance making … the tilted torso, the small leaps and runs, soft falls, fast footwork and charming couple duets. Although the music is taped and sometimes too fast for some sections, “Airs” is a lovely series of lyrical episodes. Yet, the bare chested men and the nude-looking tops of the women may not be quite appropriate for the baroque nature of the music. Laura Halzack is outstanding as the soloist in “Airs.”

Syzygy is defined as “the nearly straight line configuration of three or more celestial bodies in a gravitational system.” The dance vocabulary here feels as if it comes from ‘cool’ ‘80s’ dance halls. It is full of ‘hang-loose’ shoulders, fighting, flailing arms, bent knees and a general wildness of gesture and relationships. The piece seems to revolve around Madelyn Ho, a small but powerful dancer who may hold the ‘gravitational system” in course. Today’s audience would call it a ‘fun’ piece.

Nothing is fun about the world premiere “The Open Door.” Taylor has sometimes succeeded with dramatic works, but this is a dud. Michael Novak is the host in some sort of party whose guests include a fat lady, a gay man, a child, an old man and woman, an athlete, a soldier, a child and undistinguished others. Each has his/her dancing turn, with or without the host. No drama ensues. There is unpleasant satire with the fat lady and the men fighting.

Although set to Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” “The Open Door” has no charm, limited dancing and less impact. It should be stored away.

The fine company members of The Paul Taylor Dance Company are:

Michael Trusnovec, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, Michelle Fleet, Parisa Khobdeh, Sean Mahoney, Eran Bugge, Francisco Graciano, Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Apuzzo, Michael Novak, Heather McGinley, George Smallwood, Christina Lynch Markham, Madelyn Ho, and Kristin Draucker. Applause for them all.

Taylor employs an accomplished artist whose work shines through, no matter what the work. Lighting is by the great Jennifer Tipton. Costumes are for “Syzygy” by Santo Loquasto and for this performance “Airs” costumes were by Gene Moore, “The Open Door” by William Ivey Long.

A mix of old and new works continues through the week. The best will be offered on Saturday and Sunday; “Esplanade” (!975) to music by Bach.


Photo: Paul B. Goode

Eran Bugge (left), Robert Kleinendorst and Laura Halzack perform “Airs.”


Joanna G Harris, PhD
2714 woolsey st berkeley, ca 94705
510. 205-6065