Jason Taylor, whose troupe opened the Howard Theatre's three-day dance jamboree on Thursday night, advertises himself as a practitioner of modern jazz movement. It's a gentle version of jazz, judging by Taylor's four pieces on a program which also included two dances by Jimmy Thurston and the nature and love verses of Jessie Sutton.
Ease was the dominant quality as 10 performers of diverse shapes ran across the stage in "Rainbow," trailing lengths of cloth like revolutionary dancers of 1910. Alyson Lang and Bill Lewis slipped smoothly through the balletic ballroom maneuvers of "Autumn Moods," a pas de deux which -- like most -- used love as the peg from which to hang dance skills.
"In "Victims," a convict, a boxer, a preacher and a beggar simultaneously meandered through their daily routines, and in "Love Tease" the whole troupe was shown mildly entwined. In each instance there was just enough of syncopation, slides and flurries to remind one that Taylor's choreography isn't really modern, ballet, ballroom, character or gymnastic dance but jazz.
Jazz was even more difficult to find in Thurston's work. "How I Got Over" is a gospel stance more than a dance. "Ghost" used robot formations and still ballet enchainments to try to illustrate the quotations nightmar of Luciano Berio's "Sinfonia."
Last night at the Howard, Melvin Deal's familiar African Heritage Dancers and Drummmer appeared. The final jamboree performance, tonight, features the Wulomei Dancers, from Ghana.