Lar Lubovitch Dance Company // Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC // November 18–21, 2010 // Reviewed by Christopher Atamian
Lubovitch's Legend of Ten. Photo by Steven Schreiber, Courtesy LLDC.
This enchanting presentation reminded viewers of the extent to which Lar Lubovitch’s choreography is about ebb and flow. His dreamlike creations are composed of waves of movement that never truly resolve but rather end only to begin again like some unstoppable force of nature. Enchanting as well on the night I attended was the nearly effortless transitioning from minimalist to classical to jazz music, a tribute as much to Lubovitch’s talented dancers as to the choreographer himself.
Lubovitch’s world premiere The Legend of Ten, set to the first and fourth movements of Brahm’s Quintet in F Minor (Opus 34), is at least partly a response to Balanchine’s alleged claim that it’s impossible to choreograph to Brahms. According to Lubovitch, the title refers to the codes and symbols used by cartographers. He’s created a fast-moving, intricate work that includes a variety of pairings and riveting dancing in the round.
The choreographer’s fluid style works best in North Star (1978), set to Philip Glass’ minimalist composition of the same name. Dancers weave in and out of complicated patterns that recall abstract expressionist paintings, like so many Pollocks or Krasners being danced onstage. The intense, accelerated rhythms in the female solo are remarkable. Jenna Fakhoury imbued them with sheer fiery, gut-wrenching emotion.
In the duet from Meadow (1999), set to Gavin Bryar’s haunting Incipit Vita Nova, Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Brian McGinnis project both elegance and strength—in particular in a series of quick short lifts that suggest running on air. Coltrane’s Favorite Things, which premiered earlier this year at the Joyce, ended the evening on a completely different note musically. Inspired by Coltrane’s interpretation of Richard Rodger’s My Favorite Things—a live recording from 1963—the piece displays a hybrid movement vocabulary culled as much from jazz’s often abrupt starts and stops as from Lubovitch’s more flowing style. The head and shoulder thrusts and exaggerated facial expressions have a bit of Fosse to them, and they feel perfectly at home here. Jonathan E. Alsberry displayed both power and restraint in each phrase. Along with a leggy, smiling Reid Bartelme, his performance was one of the highlights of the night.
Throughout the evening, there was something delightfully repetitive in the continuity of Lubovitch’s movement—something soothing and reviving, like water passing softly over body and soul.