Diversity of style and concept, along with group enthusiasm, would appear to be the main attractions of the Jason Taylor Dance Theatre, but judged by last night's program at the YWCA Penney Auditorium, the quality of the troupe's work leaves something to be desired.
The company, a Washington fixture for some years now, is codirected by Jason Taylor and Jimmy Thurston. Both have extensive past credits; Taylor is a native Washingtonian who has danced professionally in New York and elsewhere, and Thurston has headed the ballet program at the Ellington School of the Arts since its founding. The two are also founder-directors of the Theatre Movement Exchange (TME), a dance downtown studio.
The eight dancers of the Taylor company seem to have had considerable if varying degrees of training--the level is notably uneven--but none has quite attained professional caliber. The versatile and attractive Glen Whaley comes closest, but no single dancer showed a secure, fully developed technique in any of the styles--ballet, modern and jazz--the troupe cultivates. Nor was last night's repertory--consisting of short-winded pieces of eclectic, derivative and generally uninspired character--of much help to them.
Among Taylor's four pieces, "Pan Piper" gave Whaley a chance to display his suavity in a brief, conventionally mimetic solo; "Searchlights," which had its seven dancers waving flashlights on a darkened stage, at least had a sense of pattern in its radial formations. Thurston's "Echo and Narcissus" pas de deux, a pallid study in failed seduction, left one wondering why the female dancer was in toe shoes, given the rudimentary treatment of ballet fundamentals. The program's other offerings--a group disco number by Whaley, and a lone vocal number--were performed mostly by students.