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Dance Writing

ON PAUL TAYLOR (los angeles times) "Public Domain," a 1968 piece set to a collage of recordings that are, yes, in the public domain, is by a madcap comedian. The creator of "Piazzolla Caldera," which had its premiere in 1997, uses music by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky to feed steamy, tango-flavored couplings. And the virtuoso who made "Promethean Fire" in 2002 lives in an altogether different, elevated realm, combining majestic music by Bach with images of collapse and renewal to evoke 9/11.


The man who answers the door at Taylor's Lower East Side apartment is none of the above — more like a kindly, soft-spoken, slightly rumpled professor. But that "terrible boy" hasn't gone away, frequently indulging his impish instincts during a recent conversation in his light-filled living room overlooking the East River.


Give him an opening and he'll blithely skewer a dance icon, saying of Fred Astaire, "He looks like a mosquito to me. He's too lightweight. Just to flap your feet around is not enough." He'll be no less flippant about one of his own, best-loved dances: "When you've seen ‘Esplanade' this many times, you go, ‘Oh, when will it be over?' "


ON SAVION GLOVER (new york times) The most admired feet in showbiz are clad in big -- very big -- tan work shoes, and the famous dreads are hidden under the hood of a black sweatshirt. Slouched on a metal folding chair in a rented studio to talk about his new show, Savion Glover has the look of a wary, languid teenager, not a 31-year-old dynamo whose walloping tap dance revivified an American art form and opened it to the hip-hop generation.


But as he explains why he's returning to the Joyce Theater on Tuesday, not with an encore of last winter's hugely successful song-and-dance turn, ''Improvography,'' but with ''Classical Savion,'' an entirely new show set to classical music, a burst of soft, filigreed tapping erupts from the floor. ''I've been listening to classical music since my mom introduced us to it,'' he says. ''So it's nothing new,'' rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, rat-a-rat-a-tat-tat.


I look down, startled that those clodhopper shoes are producing such a precise and delicate rustle. But it's too late. His feet are still again. Someone else's foot-tapping might seem rude or impatient. But for Mr. Glover, it's punctuation, a part of his speech, and he goes on, almost unaware, listing the handful of tappers who have tackled classical compositions.


ON LUIGI (new york times) Age has its privileges, and Luigi, the venerable jazz-dance teacher who turned 80 a week ago, makes full use of them. Thirty seconds after you're introduced, he's gossiping in your ear; 30 minutes, and he's taking your hand, putting it on his rump and saying, ''Feel that!'' In an hour, you're looking at photo albums: ''Here I am with Valerie Harper.''


Ms. Harper is just the beginning. Luigi's list of celebrated students -- just ask, he'll reel them off for you -- includes Jane Fonda, David Hartman, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minnelli, John Travolta. He has taught athletes, too, from gymnasts to boxers. But mostly it has been dancers -- and choreographers like Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Ann Reinking, Susan Stroman and Michael Bennett -- who have worked to incorporate Luigi's cocked head, tight shoulders and stretched torso into their styles.


ON MICHAEL MOSCHEN (newsday) Smart people know formulas for how far and how fast a ball will roll across a smooth surface when it's pushed with a given amount of force. They can explain mathematically the difference between a circle and a sphere, a curve and a straight line, the hand and the eye.


Then they buy a ticket for Michael Moschen and it all goes out the window. Moschen, who opened a two-week engagement at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday night, can persuade you that the rolling of a ball is an utterly mysterious, metaphysical event. He can turn an ordinary hoop into a shimmering three-dimensional bubble and a silver baton into a snaking series of arcs. They call him a juggler, but that's a little like calling Michelangelo a stonecutter or Mozart a piano player.


ON BORIS EIFMAN (newsday) New York’s Russian emigres were out in force, dressed to the nines and ordering up champagne and even White Russians at the City Center bar on Wednesday night. The occasion was the New York debut of the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, and the White Russians couldn’t have been more appropriate.


The curtain had just come down on the first act of "Red Giselle," Boris Eifman’s vividly theatrical ballet about a ballerina undone by the Russian Revolution, and the main character had just joined a line of white-clad refugees trudging slowly and sadly across the stage to new homes in the West.


One can only imagine the resonance this image had for the Russians in the audience, who had also packed their bags and turned their backs on their homeland.


And at the end, they reserved their biggest cheers of the night not for Elena Kuzmina, the jet-haired dancer who portrayed the story’s nameless Ballerina, or for the performers playing the three men in her unhappy life, but for Eifman himself, the renegade choreographer who emigrated intellectually from Soviet Russia by starting his own company in 1977.


ON ANNE TERESA DE KEERSMAEKER (newsday) The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and De Keersmaeker wants to make sure you’re miserable in them. She’s the Belgian choreographer who runs Rosas, and their latest work, "Woud" ("Forest"), got its American premiere on Wednesday night at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. There’s something a little excessive about an artist who can barely manage a smile at her curtain call. The audience cheered anyway, of course, and there were certainly things worth cheering about: dancers as supple and daring as any you could ever hope to see; a movement vocabulary of immense originality and power; a bold approach to music and the musicians to carry it out.


But oh, the grimness.