Paul Taylor Dance Company in Brandenburgs

Paul Taylor Dance Company in Brandenburgs

Last night I braved 66 West with my trusty driver and companion, Dave, to see Paul Taylor Dance Company at Wolf Trap.

I hadn’t been to Wolf Trap for a while, and we met up with Talu Dance Co. girls and various boyfriends and moms. We frugally decided on lawn seats, and enjoyed a fantastic picnic of shushi, bruschetta and fresh melon.

I was worried about the view from the lawn seats, and even though we got sprinkled on a little bit, the lawn seat atmosphere was really perfect for our group. Talia and I got to explain the tenets of modern dance to our boyfriends while also oo-ing and ah-ing over specific movement, all in an appropriate-for-the-audience manner. And the view was fine, just fine.

If I’ve learned anything from really being able to see the Modern Greats in the past two years – I’ve seen Taylor, Ailey, Cunningham and Limon so far – it’s that they use very specific vocabularies for their pieces. In all three Taylor pieces, we saw V arms, gazelle jumps (like in the photo above), side-to-side rocking and a tonnnnn of attitudes.

I’m not crazy about the use of limited vocabularies – it makes the dance seem limited or repetitive. But I do appreciate that Taylor has a signature, recognizable style. Perhaps as a choreographer, I could play with vocabulary more, rather than trying to keep my pieces as diverse as possible.

One of the main things I look for in dancers are personalities. So another benefit of having lawn seats was that I was forced to stop obsessing over personality and focus on the lines and shapes instead.

I noticed that the men tended to be much loser in form than the women. One particular dancer bothered me with his floppy – no, not just not pointed or flexed, but floppy – feet in jumps and leaps. There were a few axles in Beloved Renegade and the women definitely got up higher and formed tighter shapes with their bodies. Perhaps Mr. Taylor prefers different styles in his men and women; or perhaps a more “masculine” dancing style means less precise; but I didn’t appreciate the differences.

So the Modern Greats may not be 100% my cup of tea, but I’m glad Mr. Taylor – currently celebrating his 80th birthday! – and his contemporaries have paved the way for us crazy barefooted performers.