The 2011 American Dance Festival—and Charles Reinhart's longtime tenure as its president—both conclude, appropriately enough, with the works of Paul Taylor, the American modern dance legend who Reinhart served as his first manager for a decade between the 1960s and '70s.
Taylor's classics have been a staple of his company's annual appearances in recent years, and Company B and Promethian Fire fully qualify in that description. The former is a 1991 meditation on World War II, by turns engaging, moving and stark, set to the songs of the Andrews Sisters. The fearsome symmetries of the latter, a 2002 work commissioned by the ADF and set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, have widely been interpreted as the choreographer's response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
On the other hand, Taylor's newest works here have become increasingly dicey over the past several seasons, leaving the scheduled world premiere of The Uncommitted in what can only be called questionable territory. The program's playbill notes that the work was created specifically in Reinhart's honor, with costumes and lights by Taylor's frequent, award-winning associates Santo Loquasto and Jennifer Tipton. For the rest, the most revealing information available as we go to press—aside from the title, which suggests a possible work of social criticism in the offing—is the music it is set to: four pieces by contemporary composer Arvo Pärt.
What visions have been provoked by Pärt's dramatic Fratres (Brothers); his pensive memento mori, Mozart-Adagio; the spirited, dissonant pleas of Ricercar (Search); and the elegiac but still ascendant architectures of his Summa (Credo)? We find out in the second part of his company's performance, Thursday through Saturday at DPAC. —Byron Woods