This superb venue in beautiful Neidorff-Karpati Hall at the Manhattan School of Music concluded a three-week festival featuring dance choreography set to the music of J. S. Bach performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Donald York. This amalgamation of the magnificent post-Renaissance music of J. S. Bach and the brilliant choreography of Paul Taylor and Margie Gillis presented a stunning visual and aural characterization of the German Affektenlehre. Dances emoted powerfully the expressive visionary import of Bach’s brilliant oeuvre within and beyond the scope of affects identified by René Descartes and others as admiration, love, desire, hatred, joy, sorrow, and jealousy.
Akin to the music of the late Baroque, dances were symmetrical, complex, and sequential. The contrapuntal interplay between the characters was finely crafted, passionate, subtle, and evocative. The delight of the music unfolded into beautiful visual imagery. Wonderfully adorned costuming by Santo Loquasto expressed exquisite detail. The Greek key pattern appropriately symbolized the eternal course of life, or perhaps the flow of music, beauty, dance, and movement. Lighting design by Jennifer Tipton supported the sparkling transcendent atmosphere of rich motion, vibrant sounds, and pathos.
We were fortunate to experience Margie Gillis’ world premiere of her choreographic work entitled Rewilding. She skillfully incorporated the magnificence of Bach’s music into her theme of “weaving our wildness with experiential wisdom,” while Bach’s contrapuntal linear mastery well supported her philosophical relevance.
An appreciative adoring audience stood often to applaud. The retirement announcement of beloved principal dancer Michael Trusnovec added to the emotional impact of the afternoon, well-noted, as the audience adorned the stage with flowers during his final bows.
This was another superb Paul Taylor Dance Company and Orchestra of St. Luke’s collaboration. Music and dance lovers will be looking forward to the new artistic director Michael Novak’s work in his “Celebrate the Dancemaker” series from October 28 through November 17, 2019, in the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.
Runtime: With three intermissions about 130 minutes.