Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Notes on PTDC's 59th Season

Eran Bugge and James Samson in 3 Epitaphs. Photo: Paul B. Goode
Notes on the 2013 Taylor season, in the books, comprising 21 dances in 3 weeks at the Koch Theater, where it apparently far surpassed last year's attendance. The process of collaboration seemed more important than ever, particularly the designs of Alex Katz, lit by Jennifer Tipton.

Strongest impressions:
  • Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rehearsal): the perfect mix of styles both serious and playful; substance; and technique.
  • Lost, Found and Lost: ennui + elevator music, with a vocabulary built on boredom, to brilliant, coma-inducing effect.
  • Beloved Renegade (2008): perennially sublime, with crystalline performances by Michael Trusnovec, Laura Halzack, and Amy Young; on my Top 5 PT list.
  • 3 Epitaphs: the best Neanderthal dance ever, and casting the 2 most lyrical women (Halzack and Heather McGinley) is hilarious, alongside the quintessentially graceful James Samson, Eran Bugge, and Francisco Graciano.
  • Cascade: some simple, sublime moments of tenderness between Trusnovec and Michelle Fleet, as when their outheld arms cross. 
  • Promethean Fire: the epitome of high classicism and conveying emotion through form and minimal gesture. Parisa Kobdeh shows her noble, serious side alongside Trusnovec; Samson/Young duet is affecting when they pull powerfully against one another.
  • Scudorama: suits, fruit-hued unitards, mysterious blanket monsters, and sanctimony add up to a sort of Cold War, modern dance hyper-Americanism. Sean Mahoney's best role.
  • Last Look: if all darkness and edges, an important collaboration in the season, with major contributions by Alex Katz's disco-house-of-horrors designs. Trusnovec's otherworldly fluidity in his Jamie Rae Walker-leaping solo underscores his utter confusion.
  • Speaking in Tongues: a terrifying star turn by Trusnovec, who could easily brainwash us if he so desired.
Michael Trusnovec and Laura Halzack in Beloved Renegade. Photo: Paul B. Goode
  • Perpetual Dawn: a lovely, romantic, serious work; the Loquasto backdrop and costumes and Tipton lighting are key to the aromatic pastoral quality
  • To Make Crops Grow: another strange, memorable entry into Taylor's movement theater canon
  • Esplanade: have stronger choreographic bones ever been made?
  • Company B: easy to take for granted as it is a constant on NY stages, but perfectly captures that era in American history, and the tension between daily joys and war 
  • Junction: quirky, formal, quiet, with musical hijinks
  • Musical Offering: an in-depth study of a specific vocabulary, patterning, and musicality
  • Brandenburgs: a solid gem with the peculiar equation of 5 women, 3 men
Containing rediscovered gems:
  • The Uncommitted: remarkable invention in entrances/exits and fleeting melancholy 
  • Offenbach Overtures: another sui generis work within Taylor's oeuvre, high comedy and a distinctive visual scheme by Loquasto/Tipton. Khobdeh hilarious.
Graciano, Khobdeh, and Trusnovec fly in The Uncommitted. Photo: Paul B. Goode
The Company:
  • While there is no ranking system within the company, a good deal of emphasis is placed on tenure. "Survival of the fittest" applies here, so the longer you remain (and stay healthy), the more you are cast, and prominently. 
  • I've run out of words to praise Trusnovec, the finest interpreter of Taylor since I've been seriously watching the company. 
  • Kobdeh is daring, funny, foxy, and deeply dramatic.
  • Samson, due to his size, is often typecast, but he makes the most of these paternalistic male roles, imbuing them with a kindness and amplitude, and overturning expectations with his stealthy grace
  • On the flip side, Graciano is also typecast in many young roles (in fact, he plays Samson's son on more than one occasion), but can dazzle with verve
  • Young, a consistent, lyrical, ideal presence, assumes many of the Amazon or independent women's roles
  • McGinley not only has balletic qualities, her natural radiance consistently draws the eye
  • When Halzack first joined, it is understandable why Taylor became enamored of her lovely leg extensions; they're almost like a timestamp on his choreography (see Beloved Renegade, The Uncommitted). Her private quality give her an aloofness that is a robust tonic to many of the company's extroverts.
  • Eran Bugge, if she were in baseball, could be described as a "five tool player." (A good thing.)
  • Michael Novak has a refinement and physique that will serve him well at PTDC.
  • George Smallwood, new guy with a long resume, brings winking charm, earthiness, and Broadway chops
  • Jamie Rae Walker's adds lightness, lucidity, and precision
The season was another impressive demonstration of the depth and totality of Taylor's output, and the incredible physical and mental capabilities of his company and organization. Onto the 60th.

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