Mark Taylor and Friends made their Washington debut at the Dance Place Friday night in a program of Taylor's work. The sheer physical exuberance of it all was rather overwhelming, and the capacity audience showed its appreciation in the most voluble terms. Choreographically, though, the evening left one with the feeling that there can indeed be too much of a good thing.
Taylor, who's based in New York, has been choreographing since 1979 and has toured both in this country and abroad; this spring he'll have showings in both Dublin and Paris. As the present program demonstrated, he's chock-full of movement impulses. Though he doesn't lack for a sense of contrast in dynamics or pace, most of his pieces appear to burst forth in gusts of fast, propulsive, space-devouring movement, with lots of action on all levels, from floorwork to aerial displays. He's also canny about using characteristic motifs or images in a variety of guises and as structural landmarks. And though there isn't much in the way of movement material here that one hasn't encountered elsewhere, Taylor puts it together with a decidedly individual signature.
The difficulty is that he pushes so much at you, either all at once or in prestissimo succession, that nothing really sticks. With a couple of exceptions, the pieces worked wonderfully from moment to moment, but looked very helter-skelter as totalities. One of the exceptions was "From the Archives: Social Dances (Vol. XXI) The Tango," a mock-scholarly lecture-demonstration as a pretext for a spoof of the popular Latin dance form. Taylor got in early on the recent tango craze -- the piece dates from 1984. And this is one work that's effectively unified. But aside from a few inspired passages, it's almost painfully arch, both in its parodistic aspects and in Taylor's verbal text, narrated by a woman named Greeka X. The single most constant feature of the program was the excellence of the dancing, from Taylor himself to each of his seven splendidly agile "friends."