Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In Awe of the Human Body

One of the rewards for seeing good modern dance is the reminder that the human body is indeed beautiful. We saw the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Wolf Trap last night and I was never more impressed.

It’s an interesting group in that they didn’t all study dance from the time they could walk, but each arrived at the company at the appropriate time. This would include Paul Taylor himself who in the early 50's was attending Syracuse on a swimming scholarship. He took a dance class just for fun and found his lifework. Of the group of 16 dancers, their backgrounds are quite varied, one having an MBA and another graduating summa cum laude from the U of NH in history.

But they have one thing in common now. They dance as if they are one person with a split personality, sometimes combining, sometimes separating, but always with one spirit. I have never before seen such precision.

The opening piece, Arden Court, featured 6 male and 3 female dancers. When the men first came on the stage, I thought they were nude because their bodies were so well defined. It turned out they were shirtless and had on flesh-colored very tight tights. This piece was set to excerpts from the lovely symphonies of William Boyce, an added attraction.

The second piece had a war-time setting and featured men with Basque red berets. Taylor leaves it to the viewer to find happiness or sadness in this work that clearly depicts the interaction of young girls and soldiers who are going off to war. One of the charms of his work is his ability to allow room for thought and interpretation.

The final piece, Promethean Fire, included the entire company all dressed in black velvet striped unitards. The work was written to commemorate the horrific events of September 11, 2001. The dancers were like a sea that came together and parted to a background of Bach. Their symmetry as they united onstage and midair was perfect.

As I sometimes struggle with movement, I am more impressed than ever at the lithe bodies of these young dancers. They continue to remind me of the range of movement and emotion the human body can evoke.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Sounds fantastic! I hope you had many icy beverages to get you through the evening.

I love dance. Isn't it bizarre that dancers are known for abusing their own bodies so consistently. Weird.

See you soon!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Golden Silence said...

I love dance too and your description of this event made it sound so vivid.

Also...I started blogging again and went private. E-mail me (my e-mail address is in my profile) with your current e-mail address so I can add you to the invite list if you were interested.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It sounds absolutely incredible!

12:45 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

It does sound wonderful- I have loved dance since my parents took me to see my first ballet at Carter Baron. I think I was about 6.
But, alas, as I get older those pirouttes are just too difficult- lol! And besides- no one wants to see me in flesh-colored tights anymore.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I felt the same way when I saw the Georgian Ballet perform - like liquid bodies, they were, one movement flowing into another until it was hard to know where the body ended and space began...

And I, too, thought the gluteous maximus a marvelous muscle!

9:10 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Oh to be in that great shape...except I wouldn't be willing to spend the time they do at it! Nor the pain to gain it!

11:10 PM  

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