The Uncommitted / Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center
Artists work their whole lives in hopes of creating a great masterpiece, a piece that will stand the test of time, which speaks to the soul, something that is beheld by all as a thing of beauty. Paul Taylor has accomplished just that in The Uncommitted, which was given its New York Premier during the three-week season of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center.
On the web-site for the Paul Taylor Dance Company it states that The Uncommitted is “… a comment on the impermanence of many relationships in the 21st century, the dance looks at individuals who fail to create meaningful, lasting connections with other people.” Mr. Taylor, a master of American modern dance created The Uncommitted in honor of Charles Reinhart, the American Dance Festival director and to their 49-year association which began in 1962. It is his 134th choreographed work and at 81, Mr. Taylor continues to choreograph and does not seem to plan to slow down any time soon.
Premiered in 2011 at the American Dance Festival, The Uncommitted is a profound and poignant work, that held the audience transfixed and in awe, not a sound could be heard so focused we were on the dance. It seems to teleport you to another place, a place of introspection and reflection.
The piece is for 11 dancers and is a group work that is interspersed with solos and duets. It is set to “Fratres”, the minimalistic and haunting score of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. With costumes by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Mr.Taylor builds a series of portraits that evolve into a dialogue of pain, loss, regret, longing and the inability to connect.
Each dancer seems to search inwardly and physical for an intimate connection to another human being. Couples struggle, men fight, dancers enter and gather as a group only to exit and leave one person alone on stage. The Uncommitted is a pensive narrative that gives visual reference to the need of relationships and communication.
Jennifer Tipton’s lighting creates a place of perdition that is submerged in shadow, where light seems to struggle to exist, a world of longing in which one can easily get loss. A man gestures and when gets no response seems unsure of what or where to go, he dances a solo of intimacy that was so personal it seemed voyeuristic to watch, afterwards he rejoins the group and when they exit the stage we find he’s been replaced by a woman. She stands alone and slowly begins to dance, creating a window into her soul where she allows us to truly see her, and how she struggles for identity and purpose.
The Uncommitted, which a New York Times critic called “a haunting work with so many moments of beauty,” is a masterpiece by a master of choreography and for me it is Paul Taylor’s greatest work to date. He has woven a tale that is current and yet timeless, a tale of the human condition and our need for connection, a piece that will still be relevant a hundred years from now!