College of DuPage Arts Center, March 26

No matter how you try to categorize Paul Taylor’s contributions to contemporary dance it’s an almost impossible task. This prodigiously gifted choreographer and artistic director is unique. The themes of his programs vary, and his dancers are among the most virtuosic on any stage, but they share the distinctive Taylor look: bouncy skips, jumps, and slides to the floor, arms extended with palms facing up.

Taylor’s jaunty, neatly crafted Arden Court, six men showing off for three admiring ladies, was the curtain raiser. Occasionally the women join their cavaliers, cradled affectionately but not passionately in their arms. Since its 1981 premiere, Arden Court, performed to portions of William Boyce’s symphonies, has delighted audiences with its gentle humor; though not formally balletic in style, it has nevertheless become part of the Joffrey Ballet’s repertory.

The 1983 Snow White, with an original score by Donald York, Tayor’s resident composer, has never been seen here. It may not be prime Taylor, but the choreographer did give the familiar tale a few original twists, including some wonderful acrobatics for the dwarfs. David Grenke, as the prince, was too effetely wrapped in himself to take much notice of Snow White, Francie Huber. Their not-so-classic pas de deux had some broad, amusing touches–near misses and clumsy grappling–but their fascination with the mirror promised a rocky love story.

A Field of Grass, receiving its belated local premiere Saturday, is Taylor’s tribute to recent history as defined by a group of songs by Harry Nilsson. The piece opened with Patrick Corbin in bell-bottom jeans, seated alone onstage and smoking. Gradually he’s joined by four women and two men also clad in bell-bottoms. Since any movement Taylor designs contains inventive elements, he doesn’t bore. But even genius sometimes falters. A Field of Grass did not develop a consistent theme.

Company B had no problems with subject matter or emotional content. The use of Andrews Sisters recordings of World War II-era hits was powerful, whether one lived through those years or not. Each song and dance had its own comedy, drama, love story, or tragedy, and Taylor’s witty choreographic details lent each one color.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jack Mitchell.