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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Spring Rounds, Lost, Found and Lost, Mercuric Tidings

by Robert Abrams
February 28, 2006
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
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Paul Taylor Dance Company - Spring Rounds, Lost, Found and Lost, Mercuric Tidings


Presented at
City Center
New York, NY
www.citycenter.org
Robert Abrams
February 28, 2006

The Paul Taylor Dance Company presented three works tonight: Spring Rounds (a New York premiere), Lost, Found and Lost, and Mercuric Tidings.
Spring Rounds
Spring Rounds was a dancer's dance. The work opens with dancers gathering in green/yellow costumes the way that any group of dancers might gather at the beginning of a party. They form and reform little clumps of people as they greet each other, all barefoot.
The dance movement starts naturally arising out of the gathering. They form a perfect circle. A single line becomes a waltz. Two circles move in opposite directions. One lift, three lifts, all of the dancers lift their partner.
The work was characterized by smooth transitions. For instance, there was one moment when a man was lying with his head in a woman's lap, and then the next moment he had swept her up into a lift. There were nice holds and graceful laybacks. You could see the dancers smiling, which is another reason I thought of this as a dancer's dance: you can tell when dancers are expressing their joy to be dancing. The choreography fit the music: both were very light.
Seven men leap in a circle with exuberant arms. Six women enter and prance around while the men are on one knee, watching. I could imagine that the women were dancing in a sun-dappled field, not just a bare stage. The men show off their jumps for the ladies, who respond in kind. There is more waltz. The dancers run off stage one couple at a time as if they can't get enough of Spring.
In a new section, the mood shifts. One couple dances with languid partnering. This builds into spins. Maybe they are a couple in love having an intimate moment after the energy of the previous passage.
The energy returns to the dance. A woman lies with her head in a man's lap, briefly echoing the earlier image. A man dances with two women. One woman dances. One woman dances with two men. The men throw her back and forth from the one to the other. One man dances. All the dancers enter for a waltz.
In the final image, the dancers, with raised arms, form a circle around one couple.
The dancers were strong and had great control. The result was beautiful. If ever one could imagine recreational modern dance with classical deportment, this would be it.
Lost, Found and Lost
This dance was a minimalist absurdism portrayal of depression and therapy. The dancers were all dressed in tight fitting black pants and long sleeve shirts. The outfits were partially covered in silver sparkles, with some dancers having more sparkles than others. Some dancers had one colored shoe and one black shoe. The shoes were split-sole. They started by raising their arms and then falling down to their knees.
The choreography often used strong postures that matched the strong, resonant music.
The dancers were standing on one hip a lot, the way people do when they are waiting for a bus, or are slightly annoyed.
In one passage, the dancers were literally waiting on a line. The line wasn't moving very fast. They managed to extract humor out of stillness. For instance, the front of the line finally moved up a little, but one person in the middle of the line doesn't move into the gap. The person behind her is impatient and wants her to move up, even though there really isn't any rush since the line as a whole isn't going anywhere. There were audible laughs from the audience. The line finally moves. Eventually everyone on the line leaves the stage, leaving two women on stage. In a lot of ways, this work could be called the art of moving slowly.
The women look depressed and resigned. Their body posture slumps. Then one woman moves frenetically. She has only one yellow shoe (the other is black). The unhappy woman appears to have less sparkles on her costume than the others. Perhaps this is why she is depressed?
In the next passage, two dancers and then all of the dancers dance while one just stands there looking left out. The left out dancer has plenty of sparkles on her costume. So therefore one can not say that the main message of Lost, Found and Lost is that lack of sparkles causes depression. It was a good theory while it lasted. Finally the left out dancer bends and stretches. Four men copy her movements. Maybe she just needed time to feel right? (On the other hand, Cognitive Behavior Therapy suggests that your feelings can sometimes send false signals. For instance, just because you don't feel like getting out of bed doesn't mean that you should stay in bed. Sometimes initiating action even though you don't feel like it will help to change your feelings. So perhaps the left out woman just needs a therapist to encourage her to start dancing sooner even though she doesn't feel like it.)
Five women lie down in a bored pose. The lights go out. Five men rush out and when the lights come up, they assume a pose. The music stops abruptly. They change positions. The audience laughs.
The dancers perform angular dropping to their knees repeatedly. They move, they are still, they move, they are still. Crazily they fall to the ground.
Men and women run across the stage backwards.
The dancers get a laugh out of simple jumping motions. They dance with bent legs and rolled shoulders. They perform what my friend's eight year old son calls "crazy dancing". The curtain comes down.
Not only was Lost, Found and Lost potentially about therapy, it was also therapeutic. A friend of mine who joined me for the show said after it was over that the dance summed up her life in New York so far. The elegance contrasted with frustration. Some things going well, some things not. People being uncomfortable, moving to find a place of comfort; being in constant uncomfort but then finding comfort. (I think this refers to her search for an apartment.) Other people pick up on the mood. The importance of finding little things in each day that are so cool. (Here she was talking about the colored shoes.) She said that she needed that right about now and was inspired.

Mercuric Tidings
This dance featured red outfits that fade to white (or more precisely, skin tone) at the top. Thus between the different works, the evening featured most of the colors. The dancers were barefoot. The dancers were smiling.
This dance didn't appear to have a theme. It was an exhibition of pure movement. Overall it was very pretty: the postures, the movement, the music. The dancers were very pleasant to look at, both the men and the woman. The men were dancing shirtless. Most of their chests were cut and well defined.
The work opened with dancers in two lines leaning to the sound of a flute. The music was bold and dramatic. While I liked the energy the dancers put out in response to the energy of the music (in the fast sections), sometimes the music seemed a little much. Much of the dance felt like a grand finale. All good stuff though, so this is really intended as a minor criticism. Alan Greenspan probably wouldn't like this dance (he was opposed to irrational exuberance), but many others will.
I liked the leaps, lifts and precise rapid turns across the stage. I thought the choreography hit the music well. There were several passages where a dancer's movements were nicely offset within groupings, followed by movements that were in sync.
In a slower passage in the middle of the work, the dancers leaned their legs, echoing the opening of the dance.
I especially liked a sequence where one group of dancers performed a series of rotating lifts going left while another group of dancers rolled on the floor going right.
The dance returned to a fast passage with leaping legs that were the picture of exuberance. Lines formed and reformed.
The dance ended with a final ensemble pose with one female dancer raised high.
Spring Rounds and Mercuric Tidings were similar in some ways. The final poses had similar but not identical structures, and some of the feeling in each work was, at least at times, coming from the same source. It would be very interesting to have both on video and play them side by side. Perhaps the Paul Taylor Dance Company could borrow the digital video technology NBC used to show two ski racers moving down the mountain at the same time. Or maybe that is something only a dance critic would think of requesting.

Lisa Viola and Sean Mahoney of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Spring Rounds
Photo courtesy of Lois Greenfield



Paul Taylor Dance Company in Lost, Found and Lost
Photo courtesy of Jack Mitchell



More Paul Taylor Dance Company reviews.



SPRING ROUNDS
Music by Richard Strauss Divertimento, Op. 86 (after Couperin)
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Costumes by Santo Loquasto
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton (New York premiere)
Dancers:
Lisa Viola
Sean Mahoney
Richard Chen See
Heather Berest
Michael Trusnovec
Annmaria Mazzini
Orion Duckstein
Amy Young
Robert Kleinendorst
Julie Tice James Samson
Michelle Fleet
Parisa Khobdeh
Nathaniel Keuter
Commissioned by San Francisco Ballet with the support of the Columbia Foundation. This work was also made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art; and by generous contributions to the Paul Taylor New Works Fund.


LOST, FOUND AND LOST
Music: Supermarket music arranged by Donald York
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Costumes by Alex Katz
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton (first performed in 1982)
In 1957,Paul Taylor presented a single performance of 7 New Dances- a concert that caused most of the audience to leave soon after it began,and Louis Horst,one of his mentors,to publish a celebrated review consisting of nine square inches of blank space. Nevertheless,Taylor felt his collection of postural ABCs had spotlighted the close kinship of posture to gesture, and that the "found"materials from which the dances were made - natural postures,ordinary walking and running - would, when presented on stage, offer a glimpse into a dance-related area that had gone more or less unnoticed. Since 1957 Taylor has occasionally returned to these roots; for example, Esplanadein 1975. One of the 7 New Dances- Events I- became the springboard for Lost, Found and Lost.
Dancers:
Lisa Viola
Richard Chen See
Heather Berest
Annmaria Mazzini
Orion Duckstein
Amy Young
James Samson
Michelle Fleet
Sean Mahoney
Nathaniel Keuter
Original production made possible, in part, by contributions from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency.


MERCURIC TIDINGS
Music by Franz Schubert Excerpts from Symphonies Nos. 1and 2
Choreography by Paul Taylor
Costumes by Gene Moore
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton (first performed in 1982)
Dancers:
Lisa Viola with Richard Chen See
Heather Berest
Annmaria Mazzini
Orion Duckstein
Amy Young
Robert Kleinendorst
Julie Tice
James Samson
Michelle Fleet
Parisa Khobdeh
Sean Mahoney
Jeffrey Smith
Original production made possible in part by a contribution from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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