Paul Taylor Dance Company in "A Field of Grass," which protrayed the dark and light of the 1960s counterculture.
Take a moment in time or a culture phenomenon and in 30 minutes the late choreographer Paul Taylor could explain it all – its allure, its intoxications and its dangers. And he does it with not only engaging visual designs, but with an ensemble cast of dancers who capture the imagination.
This wonderful company, one of the top contemporary dance companies in the world, was all that on Saturday night at The Egg. In a program of three works, the uplifting “Arden Court,” the schizophrenic “A Field of Grass” and the dramatic “Piazzolla Caldera,” it was clear that Taylor’s genius as one of America’s greatest dancemakers remains secure.
The evening opened with the lofty “Arden Court,” an inspirational opener to any Taylor display. To baroque symphonies by William Boyce, the dancers frolicked across the stage, first gliding like casual strollers in park and then jumping and cartwheeling as if they themselves were flora popping straight up from the ground. The non-stop movement ended with a high-speed finale where the women are tumbling between the men and the men are eating up space, leaping and rolling across the stage as the lights dimmed, signaling the end.
The dancers wore costumes that looked to be sprinkled with petals and it was all overseen by a pink rose, the symbol of grace and gratitude. It was an enchanting spray of movement and jubilation.
The remainder of the program, however, revealed Taylor’s clear-eyed take of all things including the dark sides of 1960s utopian counterculture in “A Field of Grass” and tango obsession in “Piazzolla Caldera.”
“A Field of Grass,” to songs by Harry Nilsson, began with one of my favorite Taylor dancers, Alex Clayton, puffing on a marijuana cigarette and rolling about to “Mother Nature’s Son.” The contented dance progressed to an orgasmic ensemble section led by Christina Lynch Markham, hair down and flying, and then to an optimistic duet with Clayton and Eran Brugge playfully skipping around to “I Guess the Lord Must be in New York City.”
The idyllic life halted to the song “Spaceman,” in which the horrors of drug addiction was portrayed by a convulsing Clayton. However, Taylor brought the audience back to feeling good, sweet attitude with “The Puppy Song.”
“Piazzolla Caldera,” to tango standards by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburski, distilled the aggressive, macho side of the Argentinian dance with a daring face-off between men and women that was more a bullfight than a dance of passion. The sharpness and precision was stark and sexualized, leading to a victimizing pile-on of Jada Pearman’s character.
It was so pulsating and real that one could not look away. It was classic Taylor. And we are all grateful for that.