Paul Taylor Dance Company performed Taylor's final work "Concertiana" on Friday at The Egg.
I love the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Every time I hear of an appearance in the Capital Region, I happily anticipate the event – mainly because I know its artistic leader, Paul Taylor, will show me something grand, something deep, something that will resonate to my toes. To me, and many dance devotees, Taylor stands atop the heap of choreographic genius.
Yet it was with a lamenting heart that I attended Friday’s night’s showing of the Taylor company at The Egg. This would be my first time seeing these marvelous dances and dancers without the man I have so admire. Taylor died in August at 88. Dancer Michael Novak was named Taylor’s successor just one month earlier. I was worried – could it possibly be the same ensemble without Taylor.
With Novak in the director’s seat, the future of the company is secure. What kind of company will it be? That remains an unknown. But on Friday night, the company was still firmly Taylor’s – dancing three of his works – the formal, but animalistic “Cloven Kingdom,” the ever-popular “Company B” and most touching, Taylor’s last and final work “Concertiana.”
Dance number 147, “Concertiana,” feels like a farewell, a love letter to his dancers, an embodiment of his artistic efforts for 64 years. (Yes, amazingly the company is that old.)
Set to music by Eric Ewazen’s both rousing and emotive “Concerto for Violin and Strings,” the piece lifts the viewer by going back to basics – with lines and circles, sometimes created by simply walking. They sweep up minds and eyeballs with lyricism and crystalline patterns that are sometimes cut out in shifting silhouettes.
What is most touching are the breakout solos and duets for the company’s newer dancers. Here, you see Taylor offering up a precious gift for his youngest members so that they can cherish a memory – a time when this massively influential artist created a spotlighted moment especially for them.
Most memorable is Heather McGinley’s solo. She is enchanting as she reaches upwards and flings herself to the floor as she tries to grab onto the divine.
Alex Clayton too makes an impression as he flies around, eating up the space around him.
But mainly, it’s uplifting to see the sensitive and fearless ensemble work – sometimes with dancers sliding along on their bottoms or a unified bounce in the air. This is trademark Taylor. Let’s hope it lives on for years to come.