The Paul Taylor Dance Company is in San Francisco through Sunday. My review in today’s Chronicle:

“The Paul Taylor Dance Company’s annual San Francisco Performances engagement is one of the happier harbingers of spring, but this year the troupe’s visit to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts arrives with twinges of sadness. For one thing, after this week’s three programs close, the Taylor dancers won’t come our way until 2009, so see them while you can. For another, it’s impossible to watch Taylor’s newest work and not be moved to mourning. “Lines of Loss,” the centerpiece of Tuesday’s opening program, is gut-wrenching, and gorgeous. It leaves a weight in the heart. And it leaves no doubt that, at 76, Taylor is far from coasting.

Like many of the best Taylor works, the subject of “Lines of Loss” seems so evanescent, and the staging is so deceptively simple that you wonder how the dance can seem so distinct from all the other wonderful Taylor dances that have preceded it. The answer is the music — an assemblage of elegiac selections by Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Part, John Cage and others, all on a recording by the Kronos Quartet — and Taylor’s responsiveness to it. Santo Loquasto contributed the white costumes and striking set, a backdrop of charcoal lines that evoke water, or striations of stone; Jennifer Tipton created the shadowed lighting. As usual, they considerably enhance the whole. But the emotional depth is in the movement.

It is sometimes monklike, as the 11 dancers pace the stage with meditatively folded hands, and sometimes ragged. Lisa Viola’s hinges into deep backbends become swifter and lower until, upon rising, she is clutching her abdomen as though stabbed. Michael Trusnovec’s solo is the beating heart of the piece, as he stretches his arms like a mole groping through darkness.”

Click here for the full review.

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