Paul Taylor, who's been making wonderful dances for nearly 60 years, is the Great Uniter of the American modern tradition -- combining experimental impulses with flawless technique and eclectic musical taste ranging from European classics to in-house geniuses.
For decades his arrival at City Center, usually accompanied by a live orchestra, heralded spring in New York. This season he's moved the troupe to Lincoln Center, performing in the plush precincts of the theater usually occupied by New York City Ballet and using taped music.
The engineers were still working out the details as "Cloven Kingdom," a Taylor masterwork from 1976, unfurled in full evening dress; the hybrid score, a blend of Corelli, Cowell and Malloy Miller combined by John Herbert McDowell, bounced around the speaker system, its volume shifting erratically. Corelli's 17th-century melodies burped with deliberately odd rattles, and Jennifer Tipton's lighting seemed oddly subdued. But the gorgeous dancers offered their delightfully deadpan interpretation of sexual segregation, of adults behaving like children or apes and finally of blissful union.
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"The Uncommitted," a new work, seemed submerged in fog, as Arvo Part's funereal music and Santo Loquasto's designs carpeted a work of interesting spatial invention. "Beloved Renegade," a 2008 choreography celebrating Walt Whitman to Poulenc's choral "Gloria," closed the program.
Opening night offered all seats for $4, what they cost in 1962, and the house was packed. On March 14 regular prices returned and the crowd thinned substantially. Twenty-one dances, new and revived, are on display through April 1, including Taylor's much-missed, 50-year-old "Aureole," to Handel.
If you go
Through April 1
David H. Koch Theater
Columbus Ave. at 63th St.