Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Katz, York, Tipton, and Taylor—Timeless Collaborators

Lost, Found and Lost. Photo: Paul B. Goode
Katz, York, Tipton, and Taylor. It's not a law firm, but they have defined some reliable rules about making good dances together. I caught some during the second week of Taylor's spring season that runs through March 24. 

Lost, Found and Lost was created in 1982, but its inspiration came from material for Events 1 of 7 New Dances originally done in 1957. What's 25 or 31 years between inspirations when you're Paul Taylor? It's an appealing concept—use non-dance movement such as poses and expressions of ennui, set to elevator music by Donald York—but can it live up to its promise? It far exceeds it, aided in no small part by Alex Katz's swanky, humorously bedazzled black unitards, mesh half-veils, and one colorful shoe for each of the 10 dancers, set crisply against a vacuum of a white, augmented by Jennifer Tipton's vanilla ice cream bath.

Apart from James Samson and Parisa Kobdeh, who are at first situated like energetic poles up and down-centerstage, the dancers stand in contraposto, weight poured into one hip which supports a propped fist. Arms fold, heads droop, posture caves. The dancers walk as if going from the kitchen to the couch, and then lie down like they're watching tv. They bumble and shuffle into a neat line, and you think, aha! He's finally getting to the structured part of the dance! But then they pivot diagonally upstage to stand not just in line but on a line, probably at the DMV from their attitude, peeling off one at a time as York's soaring Muzak medley fills the air. 
Last Look. Photo: Paul B. Goode

Katz, York, and Tipton collaborated with Taylor on another revival performed last week: Last Look, from 1985. Like Lost, Found and Lost, it's another dance that demonstrates the importance of each element. Katz created a forest of mirrors, lit in shades of gloom by Tipton. He dressed the dancers (whom we first see in a big old pile) in louche, disco era, sherbet-hued satins accessorized with rhinestone bracelets and foot jewelry. To York's frenetic score, hey shake, bounce, and careen around, not connecting despite trying. Are they celebrating, or grieving? Michael Trusnovec stares in the mirror, seemingly horrified at what he sees, yet unable to tear himself away despite trying.  

These two 80s dances capture that moment of decadence and debauchery without feeling the least bit dated. Taylor has the gift of making dances that are timeless no matter what era they're depicting. 

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