The season's last new entry in the "Dance in America" series is a fine sampler of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, airing at 9 tonight on Channel 26 and other local PBS outlets.
The Taylor company, which clearly has been enjoying a peak of creative and performing excellence in recent years, makes perhaps the best introduction to modern dance for people with little prior experience with it. The big-boned Taylor no longer dances, but his athleticism is reflected in the spaciousness and vigor of his choreography, which also mirrors its author's gothic wit.
Then, too, unlike some other contemporaries, Taylor has never suppressed sexual differences, but rather uses them to charge the energies of his dances with powerful interpersonal undercurrents. It follows that though his works are "plotless," they usually seem to be "about" some well-defined area of human experience. Taylor also combines a radical temperament and imagination with a distinctly classical instinct for formal cohesion, so that fantasy and order nearly always find an ideal point of balance.
It might have made better sense to reverse the order of the two works performed, since the mysterious, ritualistic "Runes," which ends the program, is less accessible than "Esplanade," with its exuberant drills, bouts and games. But both are masterworks, and director Charles Dubin presents them with a fine eye for the intimate enhancements of video.