Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents Paul Taylor Dance Company
Special to The Aspen Times
Paul Taylor Dance Company is one of the most renowned and dynamic modern dance ensembles today, which is why Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is proud to bring the performers to Aspen as part of its dance presentation series.
Saturday, Paul Taylor Dance Company showcases three distinct styles — from classical Bach to the trippy-hippie ’60s to sultry, Spanish-influenced choreography.
The evening starts with Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concertos,” a 25-minute piece with one lead man, male supporters, and a trio of women — all of whom morph from group movements and freezes into trios and solos, wearing rich, hunter-green velvet costumes.
“It’s pretty upbeat. It leaves you very happy and very hopeful,” said company dancer Lisa Borres, adding that the costumes and lighting are also visually striking. “If you follow Taylor style, it has an iconic feeling to it. It’s also a huge hit if you’re a classical music lover. It’s a big number, and it feels full with all of the people.”
The second piece, “A Field of Grass,” is set to music by Harry Nilsson. It features vocals, which is a rarity for Paul Taylor Dance Company, since Taylor rarely choreographed dances to vocals. But apparently, he couldn’t resist it in this homage to hippies, from flowing and playful to frantic and jerky movements depicting various states of mind and experience.
“There’s a lot of movement happening at the time, and your eyes are pulled all over; but even if you don’t know much about dance, Paul (Taylor) is really good at guiding your eye. You’re able to follow, even if you’re not sure what’s going on. He presents a clean story. It’s a fun treat. It’s very ’60s,” Borres said, explaining how the dance highlights a male soloists’ journey through ’60s counterculture, filled with highs and lows alongside four other female and two other male dancers. “The finale is happy. It feels complete. You can see his highs and lows and him coming down and finding his footing again through life and through this decade.”
The third piece involves the tango-inspired “Piazzolla Caldera,” a collaboration of two composers: Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky.
“It’s very sexy. There are no actual tango steps, but it’s definitely Spanish-influenced. It’s all of Paul’s moves, sexed up,” Borres said.
A fog machine sets the mood, as does the lighting. The passionate piece showcases a woman soloist, as well as plenty of challenging partnering, which has a “super-human” feeling (from steps to the passionate duets).
“It shows different interpretations of what that passionate heat of love can be like,” Borres said. “In the group work, you see real chemistry between the dancers, and you feel it every time.”
Taylor transformed the landscape of American modern dance when he debuted his first work in 1954. His creative output continued until his death in 2018. He chose Michael Novak to be the company’s successor.
As part of its 14-city spring tour, the dance company offers three very different dance experiences.
“They will all leave you with a very different feeling from the three very different dances, which is one of the things people love about Paul’s dances,” Borres said. “Before I joined the company, I couldn’t believe all the dances were from the same guy. He showcases different worlds — sexy, dark, happy. They call him the master of light and dark. He can really pull you into opposite worlds. There are so many human emotions that we experience, and he tackles all of them. Especially if you’re new to Taylor Dance, you’ll (experience) a nice, full feeling of the vastness of what he can make.”
What: Paul Taylor Dance Company
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Aspen District Theater, 199 High School Road, Aspen
Tickets: Start at $36 on the main floor
To purchase: aspensantafeballet.com, by phone at (970) 920-5770, or in person at Wheeler Box Office