Monday, May 24, 2010

With "Brief Encounters", Paul Taylor Dance comes out of the closet

Sean Mahoney and Francisco Graciano in Paul Taylor's Brief Encounter Photo: Tom Caravaglia

What was once a whispered secret is now on stage for all to see. And enjoy. Paul Taylor's Dance Company has always had the knack of hiring not only accomplished dancers, but some pretty nice eye candy too. Now as they prepare for their fifth appearance May 29 and 30 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, you will be able to see one of the most important dance pieces he has created in a long a distinguished career.

It is one of two new ballets which will get their Massachusetts premiere this weekend. The first is a fun piece celebrating vaudeville titled Also Playing.

The other is named Brief Encounters, and it is about homo and hetero encounters with love. Here is how Arts Journal blogger Tobi Tobias put it:

"Two trios--two men with a single woman, two women with a sole man--dance simultaneously until one person drops out of each group, leaving a male pair and a female pair.

This initiates the most recent step in Taylor's slow progress toward allowing himself to depict same-sex couples onstage, celebrating the love (and lust) that can now finally speak its name.

Later in the piece, the choreographer throws reticence to the winds and links two men in a series of handsome acrobatic postures, making them look like copulating gods."

The whole article is a fascinating preview of this weekend's featured works.

Julie Tice (left) and Michelle Fleet lend each other a hand in Paul Taylor's Brief Encounter. Photo Tom Caravaglia.

Now here's the rub. While the company will perform twice, the erotic Brief Encounters will only be performed on Saturday night, while the busky Also Playing will be seen at the Sunday matinee.

Silvia Nevjinsky and Michael Trusnovec in Piazzolla Caldera which will be seen at both performances. Photo Paul Goode

Here's the rundown of the programs. On Saturday, May 29 at 8pm, the program features the satiric Public Domain, the aforementioned Brief Encounters, and Taylor's red-hot look at the culture of tango, Piazzolla Caldera. The Sunday, May 30, 3pm family-friendly program includes the blissful Brandenburgs, the comic Vaudeville tribute Also Playing, and Piazzolla Caldera.

The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Mass. Tickets are $12 to $62, with a 25% discount when purchasing tickets for both Taylor programs. To purchase tickets, visit or phone the Mahaiwe box office at 413.528.0100.

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