Exciting dance classics help launch concert season; Ensemble shows skills of choreographer Taylor


The Anne Arundel Community Concert Association began its 48th season with an exciting presentation by Taylor 2, six dancing proselytes of choreographer Paul Taylor who seem evangelistic in their fervor.

On Sunday, the ensemble showcased two Taylor classics -- "Esplanade," first performed in 1975, to the music of J. S. Bach, and "Images," with music by Claude Debussy, first performed in 1977.

The concert opened with "Company B," which evoked the period of World War II with songs from that era. "Company B" ranged from a couple dancing a lively "Pennsylvania Polka" to a solo by Chad Levy, dancing at a feverish pace to the frantic rhythms of "Tico-Tico."

Other high moments of "Company B" included Levy featured again in the classic "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" with a new twist. Dancer Michelle Fleet and the male cast delivered a lively, seductive Latin-based "Rum and Coca Cola."

Amy Young with Joseph Gallenzzo, dancing together but rarely touching, recalled the loneliness and longing of the war years in "There Will Never Be Another You."

"Images," a Taylor classic, evoked a much more distant past, perhaps the dawn of Greek civilization with the dancers recalling the formalism of profiled figures seen in ancient friezes.

I found it refreshing to see couples dancing -- the males barelegged and bare-chested, and the females wearing leotards and long skirts. The dance was filled with athletic challenges for the entire cast and ended with a spectacular human sunburst, with one male dancer atop the shoulders of another, with other dancers perched on his thighs.

"Esplanade" had female dancers costumed in warm shades of red, hot pink and beige, with the males, again bare-chested, clad in orange trousers. Here again, Taylor's choreography required boundless energy and great athleticism, as well as tremendous strength, as female dancers leapt across the stage, hurling themselves through the air into their partners' arms.

It's easy to see why Taylor is venerated as a choreographer and the recipient of impressive awards that include a 1992 Emmy, a National Medal of Arts in 1993 and the Algur Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995.

Considered by many dance critics as the foremost modern choreographer, Taylor has been a major force in dance for 50 years. His innovations have broadened the realm of dance, always stretching boundaries and demanding much from his dancers.

Taylor formed his first dance ensemble in 1954 and like that original group, Taylor 2 is made up of six dancers who are committed to introducing Taylor's choreography to audiences around the world. Chosen by Taylor, the repertory includes some of his early works.

Next month he is to receive the Kitty Carlisle Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing Arts.

The exciting opener of the concert association season appealed to the concertgoers who accompanied me, who ranged in age from 7 to 14.

The opener was a strong inducement to attend the rest of the series, which nonsubscribers may do by calling Gale Gillespie, membership secretary, at 410-637-4881, or Mary Benson, campaign chairwoman, at 410-6470-6873.

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