With his big, bouncy, muscular movement, Paul Taylor has often been considered the all-American choreographer. And works like Company B, set to nine Andrews Sisters songs, have a definite popular appeal. But he also has a dark side. In fact sometimes his work is so bleak it's cartoonish: the 1985 Last Look places its dancers, wearing moldy purple and green, in heaps and makes sex exploitive and human "relationships" completely solipsistic. More successful are the works with dark undercurrents, like the only partly nostalgic Company B--Taylor not only makes obvious allusions to war, death, and separation but shows some awareness of deep-seated prejudices in the 40s against women, homosexuals, and people of color. We watch this dance through two lenses, the rose-colored one of the period and the darker one of our own time--and indeed Taylor's cynical strain may be just as American as his humorous, optimistic side. Now he seems to have taken a similar route in his newest piece: Oh, You Kid! is a suite rooted in an earlier, more "innocent" era--focusing on the social dances and music of the early 20th century, from patriotic parade songs to ragtime--that also features appearances by the Klan and a woman thrown onstage to perform a "cooch" dance. The program for his company's first appearance here in five years includes Oh, You Kid!, the 1991 Company B, and the 1976 Cloven Kingdom. Sunday at 7:30 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie; $36. Call 312-902-1500 for tickets, 847-673-6300 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lois Greenfield.