Paul Taylor’s new dance, “The Uncommitted” has two distinct parts. First there is a series of solos where the single performer is led in by a group and then abandoned. These solo pieces seem to focus on submitting to pain and suffering, rising above it, facing it alone. Then come a series of couplings where no two people can stay together even when compelled to do so. There are ensemble pieces where dancers peel away one at a time, leaving a sense of loneliness.
But Taylor’s dances are not in one tone. The first night I went to see his company at Lincoln Center, the program began with Cloven Kingdom, a comical piece with men performing many animal type movements in tuxedos that made my neighbor in the audience, a boy of five or so, giggle contagiously.
Following Cloven Kingdom was the Uncommitted, and then Beloved Renegade. This was like watching children in the playground, followed by young adults on social media, and then, a high mass in honor of Walt Whitman. In an interview, Taylor once explained that dance can illustrate the human condition which has both light and dark, and he puts together the ugly with the pretty.
What I love about Esplanade, one of his most ebullient pieces, is the exuberance, the spirit of play, and the sheer joy of it. There is a lot of running in it, not chasing, or racing, just running. There is not a single dance movement in it, just normal human movements that we all have done. Paul Taylor includes a child’s athleticism in his dances, that sense of I can do this, and this, and then watch me do this. Even when the dances are dark and somber, a child of five can get it. As a writer, I love dance because there are no words, and it is visually wonderful to watch the human body express what it is to be human.