Paul Taylor at YBCA

Paul Taylor Dance Company
SF Performances
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Wednesday February 19, 2020

Lively Memories

The Paul Taylor Dance Company returns to the California Theater at YBCA for for performances from February 19 to February 23, 2020. There is a new work, “Concertiana” choreographed by Taylor in 2018 sometime before his death that year.

The evening starts with a short film depicting Taylor and his dance history. It is an important contribution and information for those who have not been able to attend these concerts for the many years they have been offered by SF Performances.

The company is young and lively and the dance skills are very well executed. Throughout the evening I missed a certain ‘bravura” and dramatic projection that characterized former companies. But then, I’ve been watching this work since 1975!

Concertiana” to music by Eric Ewazen is performed by eleven dancers who cross the stage, upstage and down, mingling, intertwining, meeting, leaving one another. The piece is like a retrospective of many earlier Taylor works. There is a long solo for red-headed Heather McGinley whose charm and skill “steals the show”. There are also shorter solo moments for other company members. “Concertiana” sets the pace for the rest of the program’s vocabulary: locomotion, falls and floor rolls, swings and lifts. It is all amazing and delightful and (but) often grows dull since most activity is “on the beat.”

Company B” is favorite for those of us who can remember the Andrew Sisters and the songs of World War II. Although the beat is lively and jazziness delightful, the work is haunted by the men who march to war in the upstage shadows. This is most pointed in the number “There Will Never Be Another You, ” performed by Heather McKinley and Michael Apuzzo. My memory is that the work ended there; in this performance there was a repeat of the opening, “Bei Mir Best du Schon”. Again the full cast participated but there were special performances by Madelyn Ho, Lisa Borres and Jada Pearman.

Esplanade” to Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, is the company “hit”. I believe that is nothing else is remembered of Taylor’s work, “Esplanade” will go on and on. First performed in 1975, it has ‘wowed’ audiences with its fast pace, leaps, falls, rolls, runs and finally “catches”. Women run fast and are caught up in the mens’ arms, then swung to run and leap again. It is breathtaking!

Best wishes to Michael Novak who has succeeded Taylor as Artistic Director. He is a dancer, dance scholar and recipient of many dance awards. He has inherited a formidable task and a complex and often difficult repertory.

Joanna G. Harris