Giving the audience what they want
Last Thursday night at David Koch Theater, it was the man himself, Paul Taylor that is. After a thoroughly pleasant show, a program of heavyweights vs featherweights, the audience was roused to their feet by Taylor’s appearance on stage during the final curtain calls for Promethean Fire. This last ballet of the bill, with its mass of dancers emerging, writhing, and engulfing one another in the flattering lines of Santo Loquasto’s velvet and mesh unitards was fantastic, but only satisfying after the three ballets that came before. (Though Parisa Khobdeh and Michael Trusnovec, with their quiet sense of abandon in the pas de deux, could well exist in an evening all their own.)
The real treat of the program was Aureole, first performed by on August 4, 1962. This 50 year-old ballet, set to George Frideric Handel’s Opus 30, premiered roughly two decades before my birth; five months after Fonteyn and Nureyev danced together in Giselle for the first time; a month before The Rolling Stones made their debut; a day before Marilyn Monroe died. JFK was president. There is certainly an innocent gloss to this ballet, attracting my nostalgia for a time I understand only through the early episodes of Mad Men. And yet, this sentiment cuts to my core here and now. I am still thinking of its pure lines, joyful lyricism, and masterful dancing, balancing gravity and light, days after seeing the show. It is that overall balance which haunts me, the yin and yang ever present in all of the dancers’ movements; casting a large shadow on our current dystopian and post-hope world. A place that seems sharply divided on all fronts, including art and culture, where dance is often full of movement lacking concept or full of concept but lacking rigor (or both). However, listening to Van Jones, activist and civil rights attorney, speak on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show the other day made me think: maybe our time is not as dark as it seems when viewed in the brilliance of Aureole. Maybe post-hope is actually the first step in rebuilding the dream.