Line of Loss/Paul Taylor Dance Company, City Center, New York

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Over the years, Paul Taylor has explored war, its ravages and repercussions in different ways but always compassionately, as his various works concerning conflict attest. Dark, angry pieces such as Banquet of Vultures, with its monster in a business suit stalking victims as mercilessly as Death in The Green Table; Company B, outwardly jaunty yet subtly sad, with the bobby-soxers and GIs of the second world war, kids in the military and their girls, swinging to Andrews Sisters songs; and the calm, meditative Sunset, set to Elgar, with soldiers relaxing before returning to battle, a peaceful interlude in a rural setting.

Each of these pieces tells its tale through mood and implication. The latest, a world premiere, Lines of Loss, with its simple all-white costumes (except for the dramatic touch of scarlet robes thrown over them at the end) belongs to the calmer category and is as fascinating as any Taylor has choreographed lately, particularly for its choice of music.

He has taken eight pieces, the work of composers as different as Guillaume de Machaut, Arvo Pärt, John Cage, Alfred Schnittke, Christopher Tye and Jack Body played by the Kronos String Quartet and choreographed a quiet work of fleeting light and sadness. The dancers enter silhouetted against Santo Loquasto’s pale backdrop skeined with black lines, barely illuminated by Jennifer Tipton’s lighting. Stringing out diagonally, they run or jog, often circling a central soloist.

Lisa Viola, one of the company’s most vibrant dancers, who can go from comedy to pathos in an instant, is here a mourning figure, raising her arms as if in supplication then doubling backwards, sometimes curled on the ground convulsed with despair, in a solo set to Tye. A verse quoted in the programme ends with the line “So night by night, my life is gone”, reflecting the grieving underlying this not always overtly sad piece.

With Roses, a graciously flowing ensemble work to Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and Baermann’s Adagio for Clarinet and Strings opening the programme, it was left to the fast-paced Company B to shift the mood, with Francisco Graciano wittily precise in his tics in Tico-Tico and Robert Kleinendorst trumpeting virtuosity in Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, a finale to bring everyone to attention.
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