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Dance Review: Mark Taylor excels in premiere at Alloy

Saturday, March 18, 2000

By Jane Vranish, Post-Gazette Dance Critic

We don't see enough of the Dance Alloy, Pittsburgh's antidote for the humdrum and the mundane. At its Byham Theater concert last night, the company presented a program that was titillating, soothing and refreshing all at the same time.

  Eric Brantner, 9, a pupil at Mifflin Elementary School in Hays, participates in Art Tales at the Shadyside Center for the Arts. The program gave children a chance to watch a video of "The Brahmin and the Tiger" and then divide into groups to participate in arts-related activities based on the folktale. Today, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts will celebrate its 55th anniversary with interactive cake painting, artists' demonstrations and hands-on arts activities. (Annie O'Neill, Post-Gazette)

With Mark Taylor as choreographer.

The prolific Taylor came up with yet another premiere, "Nevertheless," a heartwarming piece about isolation and independence within a community. It had a Balkan flair due to Georgs Pelecis' violin concerto, where the music filtered in like light through trees in a forest. Barbara Thompson designed in a similar vein, with scattered spots of light and a changing backdrop.

Taylor provided movements that made each dancer's real life qualities a part of the character. Newcomer Michael Walsh was particularly succulent with his modulating fetal positions, always slightly off balance, always slightly gymnastic.

It was the work of a highly skilled, mature choreographer and provided comparison with Taylor's earlier work, "Xanadu" (1989), which lacked the dynamics and control of Taylor's current work.

His "Bodice Ripper," a fractured piece of erotica based on romance novels, was a theatrical tour de force for Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope. These were dangerous liaisons of the near burlesque kind, which only this pair (also partners off-stage) can provide. They moved through mating rituals and jumped to various scenarios in Thompson's checkerboard lighting design, with both a risky and risque intimacy.

David Rousseve provided a complimentary viewpoint in "Love Stories," which collected thoughts on the awkwardness, insecurity and needs of humans. He constructed a lovely duet that seemed to take place in a fun house, with a maniacal Greek chorus providing off-color sound effects. The nighttime section featured the "Dying Swan," a cross between the Elephant Man and the Ugly Duckling. Ironically it all came out rather warm and fuzzy, like fairy tale endings told the Alloy way.

The program repeats tonight at 8.

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