Review of Eryc Taylor Dance's 2016 Mexico Tour performances.

A New York Dance Company in Maya
El Universal, September 30, 2016
by Juan Hernandez
Few events occur like the one recently in Chocholá, Yucatan, where the Mayan
language is still spoken, and customs are far from those adopted from Mexico’s
western cities.
In that humid region, inhabited by men and women with “torn” eyes and earth
colored skin, the Eryc Taylor Dance Company arrived to celebrate 10 years of
creative work with the world premiere of five dances, and the same number of
solos by each of the companhy.
Mexican dancer and choreographer Cristobal Ocaña (director of Umbral
Danza Contemporánea and of the International Festival of Avant Garde Dance,
which takes place every year in Yucatán) asked the New York company, before
their public permances, to work with local youngsters in a “dance awareness
workshop”.
The result was peculiar if not surreal: Eryc Taylor and his dancers: AJ Guevara,
Graham Cole, Chris Bell, Nicole Baker and Timothy Patterson could not speak
using words the children understood. Instead they used the universal
language: that of the body.
Seldom could we expect to see a first-level dance company willing to work in
conditions that Terpsichore professionals wouldn’t even consider: a totally
unfamiliar environment with people of an alien and distant culture, the Maya.
The New York artists not only enjoyed this experience, they enriched it. They
established emotional bonds with the Mayan youth, and saw the children’s
sense of form and movement change to a worldview.
The results of this meeting was seen at the opening of the 17th International
Festival of Avant Garde Dance, in Chocholá, Yucatan, on an open-air stage in
front of the Municipal Palace.
The performance took place alongside the procession of our Patron Saint, the
noise of the fair and the colorful fireworks. The Eryc Taylor Dance Company
demonstrated a professionalism and a conviction that, through dance, one can
create a sense of community that accommodates cultural differences.
The dancers, of virtuoso technique and strong personalities, presented “Vive la
noche, Baila en el bosque” by Taylor in collaboration with the dancers, original
music by Gerald Busby, who has composed music for the Paul Taylor Dance
Company as well as Robert Altman’s film 3 Women (1977); costumes by Milan
DelVecchio; and lighting by Chris Annas-Lee; “Gran duo” by Taylor, Timothy
Patterson, Graham Cole and Nicole Baker, music by Billie Holiday, Nina Simone
and Sam Smith; “Canta para cello”, an idea by Taylor and collective creation of
the company, with music composed by Daniel Tobias and costumes by Scooter
LaForge (outstanding visual artist who, besides being a prominent
contemporary painter, dabbles in fashion, having made designs for singers like
Rihanna, Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus); “Hacia la luz” by Taylor and company.
music by Hannah Schneider and costumes by Dav Burrington; and finally,
“Moda” a piece realized by the group of young people from the Chocholá
Municipal Ballet, Casa Crisal Refuge (who rehabilitates children and
adolescents who have suffered sexual abuse), Danzare Academy, Yairiane
Academy, the Oxkutzcab World of Ballet Academy and dancers from the IMA
School of Portugal.
The performance also took place at the Peón Contreras Theater, architectural
jewel of the white city, rooted in the 20th century, with classic columns, marble
staircases and a dome decorated with images of Greek muses, examples of the
architectural and academic eclecticism in vogue at the time.
The identity of the Eryc Taylor Dance Company can be defined by the creative
freedom that it offers its dancers to express themselves, to enhance their
personalities and tap into, to a large extent, their life experience.
In the solos “Carpe noctem”, by Aj Guevara; “Primero el último lugar”, by
Graham Cole; “Fan #1”, by Chris Bell; “Sin sangre”, by Timothy Patterson; and
“Cubo de amor, by Nicole Baker, the dancers and choreographers of each of
the pieces resort to the religious act of confession. In these works, the
performers express, through their recorded voice and body movements,
intimate aspects in relation to the battles to find their place in the world.
Dance in the Western world usually doesn’t allow the performers to actively
participate in the creation of a dance the way Eryc Taylor does. In this sense,
the New York company is the exception, while it demands of its members a
versatile, impeccable virtuosic technique. Eryc Taylor Dance also adapts
intuitively to unfamiliar environments and take creative risks.
The stage set by the Eryc Dance Company not only serves the rigors of
aesthetic design, it goes further: it approaches dance as an obligatory form of
communication with the people through the brightness and tragedy of human
expression. It builds ties that reunite the community, and offers an inhabitable
universes of rich diversity.