Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Muzak dance

Went last night to see Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center. Taylor used to thrill me, but the thrill has worn off, and the last few times I've gone I've been underwhelmed. (Even when I took my friend H from Japan, who had claimed she didn't "get" modern dance, and after the performance finally did.) I had a chance of some cheap tickets, so I felt I should give them another chance. I'm sorry to say the verdict was, again, "meh."

Except for the middle piece, "Lost, found and lost" from 1982, which is about, I think, boredom. It's choreographed to "elevator music" and mines the gestures of ordinary life, including postures you see in elevators, when people are waiting in line, bored, impatient, making something delightful out of them, witty and even beautiful. (Apparently the movements are from a piece choreographed a quarter century before, which scandalized all but a few critics.)

Or was it the muzak, with it soaring strings, its improbable solos of harmonica, accordion, solo violin or guitar, its ethereal timelessness? (You can listen to a snatch of the music here.) I was transported back to 1982, when Lawrence Welk and Liberace were still current, and - this is the key - when background music didn't always have a beat. Even as we floated along chintzy versions of "Laura" and "As time goes by" (missing was only "Moon River"), I found I missed that gauzy tempoless world.

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