Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance

Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, I found myself in a fabulous seat at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center last night, anticipating a performance of Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance — all for $5. In fact, every seat in the house was $5, if you can believe that! (Thank you to that benefactor — really! It was unbelievably generous of you to underwrite that evening. Such a gift to dance lovers of all incomes!) The curtains came up on the first performance of the evening: Mercuric Tidings, choreographed by Paul Taylor in 1982, and set to excerpts from Franz Shubert’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, played live by The Orchestra of St. Lukes. The music was sublime. The dancing was gorgeous and athletic and classically inclined. The costumes I just hated. I am sorry. They looked like garish bathing suits and my enjoyment of the piece was colored by my dislike of the costuming.  Next up was Dilly Dilly, set to seven songs by Burl Ives. I love Burl Ives, but I would rather enjoy his music while singing it with my folk music club. I was not keen on this new choreography (also by Paul Taylor.) The dancers themselves were excellent as always, it is just that the piece was a little too literal and slapstick for my tastes. Lastly, was the 1975 Paul Taylor classic, Esplanade. I was absolutely in heaven. This dance was everything I look for in modern dance: wonderful string music by Johann Sebastian Bach played live (again, by The Orchestra of St. Lukes;) stunning elegant costumes in delectable shades of oranges and pinks by John Rawlings; and the flirty-physical-classical-poignant dancing of the troupe. It was all delightful elegance and I could tell that the dancers themselves enjoyed it as well. I had never seen this classic dance before. It made the evening totally worth it, and the rousing and enthusiastic curtain calls were hard-earned. These dancers are seriously talented.

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