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Time For Three Perform Kevin Puts' "Contact" with Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center

Time For Three with Orchestra of St. Luke's, Paul Taylor Dance Company, 11/4/23There are many reasons to go to Lincoln Center, but for me, dance isn't typically one of them. Mind you, I don't have anything against dance - it's perhaps the most arresting and physically impressive of all the performing arts - but...well, this is a live music website. And unfortunately, it's become a rare occasion to hear interesting - let alone live - music at dance performances these days. (Sorry, I don't do Tchiakovsky.)

But Saturday night, I made an exception to go see the Paul Taylor Dance Company, who are currently holding their annual residency at the David H. Koch Theater. Taylor was one of the most prolific choreographers of the last half of the 20th century, producing nearly 150 works that combine the muscular elements of modern dance with the elegance of traditional ballet. Since 2015, the company has also presented the works of other choreographers (Taylor died in 2018), and last year named Lauren Lovette, former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, as its resident choreographer.

Saturday's program opened with the world premiere of Lovette's "Echo", an all-male dance inspired by her visit to a maximum security prison. (If you're interested in the dance aspects of "Echo", you can read about it in the Times here.) The music she chose was Kevin Puts' Contact (2022): a triple concerto written for the dynamic young string trio Time For Three, who performed here live with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, conducted by David LaMarche.

Known for their kinetic performances that blur the lines between classical, roots and rock music, Time for Three - violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang and bassist Ranaan Meyer - stood in the back of the pit, which slowly rose and fell depending on the action onstage. Puts' tonally-centered music showcased their formidable abilities, which began by having them sing a haunting acapella refrain ("The Call") while the dancers entered from the sides and aisles of the theater. Throughout the work's four sections, Time for Three played with feverish conviction - and from memory - but somehow never managed to upstage the dancers above, who flew across the stage with power and grace. It was an overwhelming combination of sight and sound, and during bows they and Lovette each received their own rapturous, well-deserved ovation. 

Time For Three with Orchestra of St. Luke's, Paul Taylor Dance Company, 11/4/23Also on the program were Ulysses Dove's all-female "Vespers" (1986), with a drum machine track by Mikel Rouse, and Paul Taylor's own "Piazzolla Caldera" (1997), with a seductive Tango-inspired score by Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky. 

The program repeats tonight at 7pm; tickets available at the box office or online