Paul Taylor dancers demonstrate amazing choreography and skill

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Paul Taylor 2 Dance Company mesmerized the audience with its talented dancers and amazing choreography at its Friday performance at Southeast Missouri State University.

Although half the size of its parent company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Taylor 2's six dancers filled the stage with their mix of athleticism and grace. The dancers also demonstrated the great range that Friday's show demanded of them.

The performance got underway with "Airs," a piece first performed in 1978.

Set to the heavenly music of George Frederick Handel, "Airs" was a beautiful and moving piece with a heavy ballet influence. The dancers wore light colors and their movements seemed light as well, as if they could have been floating instead of dancing.

But whereas "Airs" was light and airy, the next piece, "Runes," first performed in 1975, was dark and menacing. It was a study in contrasts.

"Runes" had the dancers attired in skin-colored bodysuits, and the lighting throughout most of the piece was quite dark. It starts out, in fact, with a dark stage and a spotlight on a man lying down on his back.

The atonal music, created for the piece by Gerald Busby, worked perfectly in creating a mood of mystery.

As in "Airs," Paul Taylor's choreography fits perfectly with the music that accompanies the piece. He clearly worked closely with the music and the dance moves to make it a symbiotic relationship.

Instead of twirls and pointed toes and hands, "Runes" used less graceful movements, but still maintained a eerie beauty.

At one point in the piece, the male dancers pick up the female dancers and hold them aloft in an slightly awkward upright, straight position. The result is that the male dancer looks like a tree trunk with the female dancers his limbs.

The third piece of the night brought yet another drastic change.

"Piazzolla Caldera," first performed in 1997, is the tango given a Paul Taylor twist.

Because the tango is such a familiar dance, Taylor has fun with it. At one point the dancers almost comically glide low across the stage, arms held out in front of them. All that was needed to complete the cliché was a rose between the teeth.

Although the piece could be considered the most "fun" of the three, it still demonstrated the dancers' serious athleticism and skill.

Some of the moves were slinky and sexy, akin to the traditional tango, but the piece also added strong Taylor arm movements and a fierceness to the performance.

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