For the past 60 years, choreographer Paul Taylor has gathered his share of superlatives – “the rarest of geniuses,” “the greatest living choreographer” and “the best in dance making.”
And each one was well-earned as Taylor, as represented by his Paul Taylor Dance Company, remains the most consistent of excellent choreographers. His works, now showing at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, deserve the art world’s high praise.
It’s a mystery as to how this artist, now in his 80s, is still able to churn out dances that not only touch the soul but are also accessible. He’s a hit-maker of the highest caliber. And the region should thank the Mahaiwe for its commitment to presenting his company each of the past five years.
Paul Taylor Dance Company
WHEN: 3 and 8 p.m. today
WHERE: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington, Mass.
HOW MUCH: $67, $52 and $22
MORE INFO: 413-528-0100, www.mahaiwe.org
And talking about commitment — the lack of it was on the choreographer’s mind when he created “The Uncommitted.” Made in 2011, this heartbreaking dance about the hook-up culture made its New England premiere at the Mahaiwe on Thursday night.
This haunting work, to the music of Avro Part, portrayed the devastation of detached free love, which is not without risks. As he showed, first in fervent solos, then a suite of steamy and aggressive duets and trios, this cool, seemingly carefree approach to love, leaves every participant bereft, depressed or angry.
The shadowy dance had performers swirling around each other in hordes and then pairing off. Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young made up the spiritual center as the couple that melded and then split, exiting on opposite sides of the stage after each encounter. The piece ended at their last meeting with Young turning around and entreating Trusnovec to return. But too late, he was already off and away.
As with all Taylor works, “The Uncommitted” demonstrated the choreographer’s skill, which is his ability to distill a moment, a feeling, an experience, in a way that is honest and affecting. More interestingly, “The Uncommitted” showed that Taylor is also still fully aware of our contemporary world. This gives us hope that there are many more dances in Taylor.
The evening also featured the pure and simple “Aureole.” To music by Handel, this dance exemplified the Taylor mode of movement — free and breezy with beautiful uplifted arms carried away by skips, runs and leaps. Again with Trusnovec and Young as the central couple, backed up by Michelle Fleet, Francisco Graciano and Heather McGinley, “Aureole” was a gracious opener.
The evening also showcased a reduced version of the slapstick comedy “Troilus and Cressida.” Set to the familiar “Dance of the Hours,” the two lovers, danced by Parisa Khobdeh and Robert Kleinendorst, were awaken by a trio of Cupids who spotted them as they hammed up a clumsy pas de deux. The scene got even sillier when drunken invading Greeks captured Cressida, forcing the hapless Troilus to assert himself in a blundering and hysterical battle.
The evening concluded with “Mercuric Tidings,” a rush of boundless, bouncy energy that finished off the night with an eye-catching tableau and a Taylor high.