Chicago Dance Review: PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY (Auditorium Theatre)

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by Lawrence Bommer on May 18, 2014

in Theater-Chicago


Alas, it’s been 30 years since Paul Taylor Dance Company last played Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. Even more alas, the too-brief weekend return ends today. At least now we know what the New York troupe is up to and, if not exciting, it’s certainly eclectic enough for whatever payoff that presents.

paul-taylor-dance-BLACK-TUESDAYA conjuring act to revive the Great Depression, Taylor’s period-rooted Black Tuesday from 2001 delivers a kind of hobos’ holiday as a band of soup-kitchen survivors break into the kind of dances you’re not allowed to do in 1930s’ breadlines. Fueled by vaudevillian verve, the historicist escapism delivered by funky solo and group renditions of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” capture the sheer drift that could pass for dynamism during hard times. Whether it’s a pregnant woman or a goodtime girl gallivanting among showgirls, floozies, newsgirls, doughboys and panhandlers (but no gold-diggers), this vintage testimony to resilience was strangely euphoric. The economy may slump but never young transients, cavorting beneath a looming elevated track.

Michael Trusnovec and Aileen Roehl with fellow members of the Paul Taylor Dance Company performing in SUNSETRomantic where Black Tuesday was unashamedly nostalgic, Taylor’s 1983 Sunset is a strange mix of Sir Edward Elgar’s elegiac music, curious bird songs, and the assorted capers and courtships of soldiers on leave and the sweethearts who can or can’t abide their return. The music seems altogether too delicate for the too-brief and rather randy wartime assignations and separations. But the ensemble delivered their combinations of courtly bows and winsome whirls with a tender aplomb that more than matched the ghostly score.

Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young in Mercuric Tidings-PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY. Photo by Paul B. GoodeFinally, the crowd-delighting Mercuric Tidings, created by Taylor in 1982, showcased the total troupe in bright blue bodywraps, rampaging elegantly and unstoppably to excerpts from Franz Schubert’s first two symphonies. Whether or not Mercury figures into the glad or bad tidings being delivered or denied, the physically taxing piece lives for its leaps and twirls: Action accentuates the notes and the music motivates the dancers’ elaborate conjugations. Eschewing any programmatic limitations, it amounts to pure dance, the best way for the company to say goodbye after staying away for a generation and a half.

[Stage and Cinema’s review of Paul Taylor Dance Company’s L.A. engagement]

photos by Tom Cavaglia and Paul B. Goode

Paul Taylor Dance Company
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy
scheduled to end on May 18, 2014
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