July 29, 2008

Different, Delightful Take From Taylor Troupe

By Marc Shulgold

The second evening of this summer's Vail International Dance Festival showed why this annual event has become such a welcome occasion.

While the opening-night program took place in the spacious outdoors of the Ford Amphitheatre in Vail, Monday's follow-up performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company was shifted up the road to Beaver Creek, where the ensemble performed in the intimate indoors of the Vilar Center.

As they did on Sunday, the troupe reprised Taylor's gorgeous 1975 tribute to the violin concertos of Bach, Esplanade. It was like seeing two different dances.

In the Ford, this vital, high-energy piece opened the evening, unfolding as a grand blur of nonstop movement. On Monday, the piece grew in intensity, showing Jennifer Tipton's dramatic lighting scheme to much better advantage. The jaw-dropping leaps and catches of the final segment emerged with greater strength and impact.

Dance festival organizers have learned the value of each venue, capitalizing on the positive qualities of the two. For example, this week the Vilar will host close-up looks at the work of George Balanchine (Wednesday) and Jerome Robbins (Thursday), while the Ford will be the setting for the more populist International Evenings.

It's the best of both worlds for dance fans.

In addition to Esplanade, Monday's program included another early work by Taylor (who celebrates his 78th birthday today), as well as his most recent creation.

Diggity, now 30 years old, is a bit of canine-inspired silliness that features a stage littered with 18 cutouts of little doggies. Smiling dancers playfully skitter around among them to an Americana- flavored score by Donald York. Plenty of whimsy and plenty of Taylor's love of symmetry and unison steps. Not much else, though.

The new work, Changes, is a rather flimsy look back at the rollicking, drug-drenched, fist-clenched '60s. No, the music isn't by David Bowie, but by the Mamas and Papas. We heard Straight Shooter (an ode to heroin addiction), I Call Your Name and, of course, California Dreamin'.

Dancers were garbed in colorful hippie clothes, complete with afros and thick mustaches. Lots of shimmying and frugging, with not much point or depth. It was cute but inconsequential.


Paul Taylor Dance Company

Grade: B+

When and where: Monday at the Vilar Center

Of note: The Vail International Dance Festival continues with performances in Vail and Beaver Creek through Aug. 9.

Information: 888-920-2787

Originally published by Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News.

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