Paul Taylor Dance Company

Joyously celebratory in one piece and so mordantly corrosive in the next that it leaves you shivering

PREVIEW Let's send a libation or some other such thing in the direction of Terpsichore — the muse of dance — because Paul Taylor Dance Company is back. For five consecutive years, we've had an opportunity to gain a perspective on Taylor's 50-plus years of dance-making. Then the money ran out. Thankfully San Francisco Performances found a way to have these remarkable dancers return with another set of three different Taylor programs. The earliest, the very dark Scudorama, which was thought to be lost, dates back to 1963. The most recent, Beloved Renegade, inspired by Walt Whitman and Francis Poulenc, premiered in February of this year. Taylor is sometimes considered old-fashioned because early in his career he abandoned self-conscious formal experimentations in favor of honing his pieces — the way a jeweler does when he polishes a diamond in order to bring out its many facets. In Taylor inspiration is wedded to musicality and craft. He also happens to be a sardonic observer of our foibles and vices. And when he strikes — hypocrisy is a favorite topic — he cuts to the bone. Few choreographers have made work which can be so joyously celebratory in one piece — both Esplanade (1975) and Arden Court (1981) are in the line-up — and so mordantly corrosive in the next that it leaves you shivering.

PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY Wed/29-Sat/2, 8 p.m.; Sun/3, 2 p.m., $32-$49. Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 392-2545, www.

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