Paul Taylor/BU Symphony Orchestra collaboration is incredible

Reviewed by Sarah Kuras

Last Saturday (March 10), the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Binghamton University Symphony Orchestra, directed by Timothy Perry, again gave a wonderful performance at BU’s Anderson Center. These two groups, which last worked together in 2009, left me breathless. It is hard to describe the company’s dancing with just words, so please, bear with me as I try to take you with me through this performance.

The 2009 performance led to a recent three-week residency by the Taylor 2 Dance Company, a smaller ensemble that focuses on teaching and master classes. Taylor 2 performed around the Greater Binghamton area, including at the Oakdale Mall and more recently at the Broome County Arts Council during this month’s First Friday.

Saturday’s performance in the Osterhout Concert Theater was worth the two-year wait for the full troupe. With four major dance pieces, the company and the  orchestra created an incredible blend of musical and dance styles with a stunning visual display. The orchestra played well and blended perfectly with the dancers, anticipating their every move.

The packed house buzzed with anticipation as the first piece, “Cloven Kingdom,” began. The dancers swept the stage, dressed for a high-society event. The music, by Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Cowell and Mallory Miller, took an unexpected turn as a stereotypically classical musical score mixed with modern percussion. Dancers created strange gestures and shapes. The number took a turn for the absurd as   new dancers joined the stage with mirrored headpieces. These mirrors reflected the lights as dancers captured their glare through their movements. Men in tuxedos ran around like small mammals. Women in bright, flowing dresses flew across the stage. The company looked like birds. The dancers moved flawlessly, seamlessly.

After an intermission, the company returned for “3 Epitaphs.” This number, set to early New Orleans jazz, was completely absurd. On an empty stage, the dancers wore gray full body suits with masks reminiscent of bugs and moved in the most awkward and hilarious fashion. The audience laughed as the dancers made strange gestures and drooped around the stage.

The third piece, ‘Troilus and Cressida (reduced),” with music by Amilcare Ponchielli, turned Shakespeare’s play into a ridiculous parody. With bright costumes and colorful set, the two main characters were brought together by three cupids. The pair danced with a purposeful lack of grace. The hopeful cupids and the foolish couple were soon taken by force by drunk soldiers while hilarity ensued.

The concluding piece was breathtaking. “Piazzolla Caldera,” with music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky, utilized lighting, minimal props and fun costumes. Incredible dancing proved that it may take three to tango. With pairs and trios, the dancers took the stage by storm. This concluding piece left nothing to be desired and was fully satisfying.

The Paul Taylor Dance Company left me speechless. I was thrilled to have been a member of the audience. The Anderson Center never fails to provide a variety of performances and styles each season. The next mainstage performance is the Russion National Ballet Theatre with Swan Lake at 8 p.m. Monday, April 23. Tickets are $41 (general public), $36 (seniors, BU faculty and staff) and $21 (students).

More information on the Anderson Center can be found at The Anderson Center website. Information about the Binghamton University Symphony Orchestra and other Music Department performances can be found on the Music Department website.

Information about the Paul Taylor Dance Company can be found on their website.

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