And speaking of Violas, I caught a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company this afternoon, the highlight of which (well, for me at least) was a revival of Taylor's 1975 Esplanade - a spry, swirling piece that brings Bach's Violin Concerto in E Major and Concerto for Two Violins in D minor vividly to life. It's an exceptional work, that pays tribute to the leaping, tumbling energy of Bach's allegros even as it captures the exquisite harmony of his slow movements, his mastery of counterpoint. And watching Ms. Lisa Viola dance her lithe way through Bach's skipping passages was a real joy.
The real star of the show, though, was Ms. Annmaria Mazzini, who (sadly) didn't appear in Esplanade, but who featured in the two other pieces the company performed - Changes (2008) and Lines of Loss (2007) - and totally stole the show in both. In a review of the Company last year, Gia Kourlas compared Ms. Mazzini to "the big guitar solo at a rock concert", and it's not hard to see why. Her performance of 'California Earthquake' was the best thing about Taylor's new Changes - an otherwise predictable and lackluster piece - the sheer energy she radiated made the whole stage seem to vibrate, and her electric, in your face presence was the only fragment of genuine attitude in the whole show. And when she returned in Lines of Loss to perform an intense, heartbreaking solo to a mournful Schnittke slow movement, her dancing, though mirroring Ms. Viola's opening solo for the piece, deepened and transcended it, bringing to the repeated gestures a passion and urgency they hadn't had before.
On a somewhat unrelated note, what I'd love to see, just once, is a dance performance that really inverted gender roles - where the women lifted the men onto their shoulders / tossed them into the air / caught them as they leaped into their arms, etc. Okay, so I realize there are differences in weight and strength and all that, but still, it can't be that hard to do.