The remaining two New York premieres were by Janie Taylor, a former New York City Ballet principal whose creative life can be encapsulated in a word: overflowing. A line on her website is both revealing and an understatement: “Sometimes I make things.” Over the years, she’s designed costumes, constructed stop-motion films, made delicate, whimsical drawings, curated a periodical and, back in the day, produced a photo-blog with Wendy Whelan, “Ballet, Cats and Other Things.” Recently Taylor also started to choreograph, at Millepied’s astute suggestion.
In both “Adagio in B Minor,” a duet set to Mozart, and “Night Bloom,” set to Stravinsky’s Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, the texture of her dancing — so rich with feral abandon, yet icily precise — figures into her choreographic forms. But she also leaves much room for her dancers. No one moves like Taylor; and she seems to want to showcase the individual qualities of others in L.A. Dance Project. (She’s still a member of the company and will perform in the second program, possibly for the last time.)
“Adagio,” performed on Tuesday by Jacobson and David Adrian Freeland Jr., feels a little like the missing fourth dance in Jerome Robbins’s “In the Night” — it’s the playful sort that happens at the end of an evening when a weary couple is fueled by a final wave of euphoria. They clutch at each other and pull away; they echo postures from ballroom dance, but only briefly. Soon, their bodies dissolve into other shapes — shoulders shake, heads nod briskly. In the final moment, they face each other and raise an opposite pointed foot, clinking them together like a toast — or Taylor’s casual reinterpretation of a curtsy.
Just as unsentimental and sweet, and with a measure of Taylor’s goofy humor, is “Night Bloom,” in which Taylor’s scenery — a movable set of geometric blocks — continually reconfigures the stage, giving it a modernist feel as dancers dart in and around the blocks with fleet footwork, sometimes hiding behind them, sometimes popping their heads up to watch the dancers in front. A highlight is a breezy, musical duet featuring the riveting pair of Nayomi Van Brunt and Freeland that displays Taylor’s Balanchine lineage — it glides along, deftly stringing together off-balance hips with radiant spins — but always imbued with her own twist.
That was the way each dance on this program felt — singular, rigorous, imaginative. By the end of the night, the all-female part of the equation slipped my mind. What set this evening apart was simple: L.A. Dance Project, not just another repertory company, has grown up and with it, Millepied, mission or not, flipped the way it’s usually done — all the way from California, he brought quality dance to New York.
L.A. Dance Project
Through May 15 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan; joyce.org.