Jason Taylor makes dances about style, street life, glitter and sweat; Jimmy Thurston lives in a world of pas de deux, Broadway chorus lines, Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey. As co-directors of the Jason Taylor Dance Theater, a new modern-jazz company working out of the Theater Movement Exchange, they've done a fine job of assembling and training a troupe of strong, personable dancers. The rather schizoid nature of their choregraphy however, could use some refining.
Friday night's program at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts provided a rowdy, wonderfully supportive crowd with two basic modes of dancing: pthe pure entertainment, thurst and swivel variety, and the more contemplative, slice-of-life sort. One smiled and whisted through the flashy, strobe-lit numbers, but the serious images were those that lingered -- stark portraits of prisoner, priest, athlete and beggar in Taylor's "Victims," the fervent planting and plowing gestures in his "Through My Hands," and Anita Ladson's revival-in-spired gyrations in Thurston's "How I Got Over."
The generally addled quality of the performance was augmented, even enhanced, by the musings of poet Jessie Sutton (who punctuated his cliched verse with three stock gestures of pain and anger), and Thurston's wild performance in his "Ghosts," a confused, kitschy marvel of angst and pirouettes.