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David Taylor Dance Theatre.


A recent evening with the David Taylor Dance Theatre revealed the importance of matching artistry with cohesion. Though beautifully presented, the choreography seemed to varying degrees out of sync--with music, with idea, with performance. Best known for his company's signature work, the multimedia Rainforest, Taylor pares his production approach here to the bone. The program consisted of three ballets (his obra Tang. and Kyrie Fragments and Milton Myers's Variation #2, commissioned especially for DTDT), all with minimal sets, costumes, and lighting.

Taylor, who began his career as a dancer in 1969 with Denver's Ballet Now and Colorado Concert Ballet, established his own company in 1979. A long fascination with ritual and ancient cultures (and a B.A. in history) is reflected in the more than one hundred works he has choreographed. (His tremendous zeal and determination once led him to take on a 450-home paper route to support his company in its early years.) He has since settled DTDT in its current home, historic Old Town Hall in Littleton, Colorado.

Obra Tango, set to music by Astor Piazzolla, combines tango rhythms with flamenco's passion and use of characters. Though Taylor alludes to Latino dance in posture, gesture, style, and footwork, he fails to push the genre's limits. Beginning in cliche (smoky cafe set, sparring couples), Obra Tango feels static. This piece doesn't grow; it is danced, and then ends.

Taylor's sense of partnering, however, is impressive: Gregory Gonzalez and Amy Anderson match each other layout for layout. Brent Kennedy and Stacy Smith, magical together, attack the piece with a nice sense of lust and danger. Taylor's pairing of Kennedy with Rick Dunn late in the piece offers some specatacular lifts. But Obra Tango demands too much without delivering. With dim lighting, the smoky air, and black floor, backdrop, and costumes, it is often difficult to see what is happening.

Kyrie Fragments, set to the music of Peter Gabriel interwoven with Gregorian chants (arranged by Paul Anderson) yields more compelling images but seems to work independently of its music at times. Sustained and lyrical, it is performed to a score with strong opposing rhythms.

The opening tableau (repeated in the piece's middle section) is stunning: two trios--women down left and men up right, within tight spots of overhead light--undulate in place like sea anemones. Clad simply in white, they return again and again to the floor, curling over, vulnerable, into fetal position, or rise in relieve, arms outstretched, entreating. At the end, they slowly move upstage as one, then turn to face us before diving forward in canon to rest like scattered crosses on the floor.

Myers's Variation #2 was the evening's most successful work. An intriguing double cast with five women and five men, initially jarred by the substitution of one woman in the male cast, proves fortunate: seeing Tambre Rasmussen's detailed performance twice is a bonus. Variation #2 begins with posing, logging, and small bursts of phrases that really travel. One dancer treads in place and is joined by another; together they pop into standing positions: knee to chest, attitude, then deep plie in arabesque. The dancers spiral, flop onto the floor, then pop up to run off. They dance this piece with a playful, laissez-faire quality: after several difficult phrases, the dancer simply stops and walks off.

The women, especially Ellen Kreutzer, were solid and fun, while the men seemed underrehearsed and wobbly, despite Kennedy's energetic performance. However, the movement and music again seemed in and out of sync until late in the piece, when the dancing finally revved up to the driving beat of William Catanzaro's percussive score. Then the dancers rock and the piece soars.
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Title Annotation:Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Arvada, Colorado
Author:Gastineau, Janine
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Previous Article:Balanchine Pointework.
Next Article:Cruel Garden.

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