PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY AT THE WALLIS
As I’ve stated before, The Wallis is the best place in Los Angeles to see dance shows! I was reminded of that fact once again this past week-end, when I saw the Paul Taylor Dance Company there. The whole evening, including running into several old pals during the double intermissions, was a pleasure. Everything about my daily life is hectic, (in a good way,) so I appreciate that The Wallis always feels like an oasis to me. We Westsiders are lucky to have that lovely theatre right here in our midst. (And heads-up: we dance lovers get even luckier next week when Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures comes to town! I can’t tell you how excited I am about that!)
I’ve known of the Paul Taylor Dance Company my entire life, but, to even my surprise, I had never seen them perform before. So I was very pleased by the spunkiness of their trio of classic numbers from Paul Taylor’s half-century repertoire that were featured in this show. (He created all three between 1975 and 1998.) I was thrilled that there was none of the usual heaviness that is the hallmark of many old school modern dance troupes, such as this one. There was no “rope pulling,” nor dragging someone behind, while plodding along. All the choreography and performances I saw that night were a pure delight.
While I do prefer dances that have a story, (such as classical ballets do, and the majority of numbers on So You Think You Can Dance do, as well,) I really enjoyed all of these. There may actually be stories to the Paul Taylor-choreographed ones offered at the Wallis, but they weren’t listed in the program, so I didn’t have a clue of what was going on. (And I don’t like being kept in the dark about what the movements mean because they always seem so important.) But the steps and dancers were so engaging that I just went with the flow.
The first number, Syzygy, was very carefree, and Phoebe-esque. (You Friends fans know just what I mean.) I loved the happy, constant movement. There was not even a nano-second of stagnancy.
The second number, The Word, proved that these are not just dancers, but athletes, as well. Maybe even moreso! And I loved the costumes for this one, especially the pliable dance boots. They reminded me of the ones I used to wear to the dance clubs I ran back in the day. I guess my attire was ahead of its time, (although I’d love to get my hands on a pair of the ones from the show, just to wear around town! But they can keep the knickers.)
Speaking of wardrobe, it was all designed by the world-class Santo Loquasto, who has designed not only costumes in his prolific career, but sets and entire productions as well, including most of Woody Allen’s films. But, even though, as I said, I’m a fan of the German schoolboy-type of attire from The Word, (but not so much of the nude bodysuit on one girl, complete with obvious red nipples, which was a bit weird,) the costumes from the other two numbers reminded me of a story my mother loved to share with everyone. Growing up in Brooklyn, she took me to see tons of dance shows all over New York City. Many were local companies, who had little to no budget, so it followed that most of their wardrobe was a tad, how shall I say, shoddy. The first time I saw one such show when I was very young, (and used to seeing famous dance troupes, even at that early age,) I was surprised by the thrift shop-looking attire, and asked my mother, (way too loudly,) “Why are they wearing schmattas???” She was mortified, as I am even thinking about that episode! But, sadly, that’s what Santo Loquasto’s designs looked liked in two thirds of this performance. It didn’t matter even one little whit, though—I was just a bit surprised, as I was all those years ago.
So, getting back to the Paul Taylor Dance company, this may surprise some of you, but my favorite music of the three dances, by far, was the Bach violin concertos that accompanied the third piece, Esplanade. (I love all these one-and-two-word titles—they’re so easy to remember. And type!)
One thing I especially appreciate about this company is that several of the dancers are older than the norm. And they are astounding! I hate that a dancer’s performing life is usually very short, and that most companies put anyone nearing or—heaven forbid—over forty out to pasture. I hope the rest of the dance world takes notice of these fascinating dancers in this troupe, and follow suit.
If you get to see the Paul Taylor Dance company anywhere ever, I suggest you do so. The experience will be a delightful evening out.
And don’t forget—Matthew Bourne’s company will be at The Wallis for four performances beginning May 17. I will definitely see you all there!