Saturday October 2, 2010 - My only visit to this unique dance festival for the current year. The programme featured performances by four companies:
San Francisco Ballet
Diving into the Lilacs (pas de deux) Choreography by Yuri Possokhov, danced by Yuan Yuan Tan (above) and Damian Smith.
Paul Taylor Dance Company
Company B Choreography by Paul Taylor, songs by the Andrews Sisters (above)
The opening work,  Ravel and Bolero was danced by Shu-Yi & [Dancers] Company from Taiwan. This beautiful troupe of dancers annoyed the hell out of me for the first several minutes of their performance during which - with no music playing - the dancers screamed and collapsed several times. They screamed at different pitches and intensities and fell fearlessly. Tedious. Finally the Ravel score commenced and they began to do some rather interesting dancing; and then the wing curtains of the stage rose and finally the backdrop vanished to expose the bare walls of City Center. So in the end the piece redeemed itself; they could just as easily have shed the pretentious, pointless opening section and let the music and dancing say what it had to say.
Danced to a romantic score by Boris Tchaikovsky, the pas de deux from Yuri Possokhov's DIVING INTO THE LILACS served as a vehicle for the ravishing artistry of Yuan Yuan Tan (above) and her perfect prince consort Damian Smith. Watch a brief video collage of moments from this ballet here. Damian's strength and assurance as a partner gave his ballerina the total freedom of movement and expression that allowed us to bask in her unparalleled beauty. Together the dancers transformed this floatingly lycical duet into a visual poem. Since I started going to the ballet in the mid-70s I have seen dozens of to-die-for dancers but Yuan Yuan Tan is in her own gorgeous echelon...and Damian Smith is her ideal cavalier.
Emanuel Gat's MY FAVORITE THINGS started out very well with solo dancer Roy Assaf giving a fine performance; after a while the annoying jazz arrangement of the Rogers and Hammerstein classic began to irritate, and the dancer moved gamely thru more and more passages that started to seem endless. None of this is Mr. Assaf's fault and - handsome fellow that he is - I surely enjoyed watching him. But enough doodling with the score already.
"Once in love with Amy..." Amy Young, that is: the Paul Taylor dancer of whom Kokyat and I are so very fond. Above: Paul Taylor working with Sean Mahoney and Amy Young, photos by Andrea Mohin.
Amy Young is an outstanding member of the great Taylor troupe and tonight the Company looked superb yet again as they danced the Taylor signature work COMPANY B. They could probably dance this piece in their sleep but it looks so fresh, clear and clean as if it had just been created yesterday.
One after another, the Taylor artists stepped into the songs that the choreographer chose from the Andrews Sisters' archive - the romantic, the light-hearted, the suggestive - and each made their piece his or her own, starting with the rambunctious Pennsylvania Polka danced by Erin Bugge and Jeffrey Smith; this was followed by the boyish buoyancy and restless charm of Francisco Graciano's Tico Tico; the nerdy perfection of Michael Trusnovec's Oh, Johnny, Oh; and Michelle Fleet bringing a tender feeling of regret to I Can Dream, Can't I?
Robert Kleinendorst's Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is a classic and Annamaria Mazzini swayed with seductive enticement in Rum and Coca Cola. Then comes the duet for Amy Young and Sean Mahoney danced to There Will Never Be Another You. Together their sincerity and quiet intensity shifted the tone of the work; Amy is bereft as Sean marches out of her dream and off to war.
The beauteous Laura Halzack, Jamie Rae Walker, and two of PTDC's newest members - Aileen Roehl and Michael Novak - completed the very attractive cast of this entertaining Taylor masterpiece with its unsettling undercurrents which seem as relevant now as they did back in the day.