DO you know the grim Scottish toast: “Here’s tae us: Wha’s like us? Gie few — and they’re a’ deid”? (“Here’s to us: Who’s like us? Quite a few — and they’re all dead.”) This spring the Paul Taylor Dance Company, returning to New York for its annual spring season (March 13 to April 1), hurls down no fewer than 22 works, spanning more than 50 years, by its title choreographer, like some vast gauntlet. And I can’t help envisaging Mr. Taylor saluting his achievement in words along the lines of that toast.
Have any other important choreographers ever been able to present a major retrospective spanning half a century? Answer: Only Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Jerome Robbins — “and they’re a’ deid.” Mr. Taylor danced for three of them.
Mr. Taylor has been through the doldrums more than once over the decades, and I’m not sure why, with so many great works in store, he’s reviving “Troilus and Cressida (Reduced).” Yet this spring season’s huge scope demonstrates that he’s neither the kind of artist who had 5 (or 10 or 15) good years and then squeezed out the remains of his career, nor the kind who found one lucky formula and kept returning to it. From “Three Epitaphs” (1956) and “Aureole” (1962; this year marks its 50th anniversary) to “Promethean Fire” (2002) and “Beloved Renegade” (2008) the variety includes darkness and brightness, lyricism and savagery, anguish and exuberance, comedy and tragedy — and, above all, a disconcerting imagination.
As important as the season’s wealth of repertory is its location. Since the 1970s Taylor spring seasons have occurred at City Center; this time they’ve moved to Lincoln Center, to the David H. Koch Theater. This change will turn the whole season into an adventure: How will Taylor choreography project into the breadths, depths and heights of this house?
Across the plaza, but later in the spring, American Ballet Theater looks determined to make history by juxtaposing stars from different constellations. The Royal Ballet’s Romanian prima Alina Cojocaru dances “La Bayadère” with the former Bolshoi star Ivan Vasiliev (May 24), then dances it with his ex-Bolshoi partner Natalia Osipova and Ballet Theater’s Argentine luminary Herman Cornejo (May 28). The Mariinsky’s prima Diana Vishneva dances in the same cast of “Onegin” as Ms. Osipova (June 4 and 7).
The world’s foremost three Giselles, Ms. Cojocaru, Ms. Osipova and Ms. Vishneva, all dance the role in the same week (May 17 and 19). Ms. Osipova and the foremost classical stylist of the day, the American David Hallberg, were to have danced together at the Bolshoi this season but never did. Here, however, they meet in “Giselle” and “Romeo and Juliet” (June 18). When we are old, we shall still be name-dropping about casting this luxurious.