Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

May 11, 2004

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Washington Square United Methodist Church

New York, New York

May 11–22, 2004

Reviewed by Susan Yung

No contemporary choreographer can craft purely beautiful movement like Lar Lubovitch, whose organic, swirling passages of classically infused modern seem to miraculously sculpt the dancers into breathtaking tableaux. In fact, the greatest challenge for Lubovitch in concert performances is to mix in drama to create a full evening that sustains the audience’s interest; too much beauty can build its own curious monotony. Pentimento (whose title describes how a previously painted image seeps through an overlayer) managed to punctuate the beauty with provocative twists, contrasting the glossy performance with backstage turmoil.

Lubovitch’s choreography is seen in prominent companies, such as American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet, and on film (recently, in Robert Altman’s The Company). So for his own company, Lubovitch sometimes opts to rent out offbeat spaces cloaked in atmosphere. For Men’s Stories (2000) it was the Angel Orensanz Foundation, a synagogue. For this world premiere, he chose an age-worn, cube-shaped church, partitioning the stage into two chambers with scrims that changed with Jack Mehler’s lighting. The company danced the first of three sections in the upstage chamber. All curving arcs, energy rolling through the dancers’ bodies, and perfect stage compositions, the work’s main weakness was some rushing on the timing. As the first act ended, the audience had already seen so much beauty that the thought of more was, oddly, fatiguing.

In Act II, Lubovitch flipped the stage’s orientation, moving the action to the downstage chamber. The audience was now “backstage,” staring through the performance at a mock audience. Positioned this way, we witnessed Jason McDole and Ryan Lawrence up close as they marked the combination being performed “onstage,” at times clashing and fighting with wholehearted violence—slashing arms, bared teeth.

In the final act, the stage orientation reverted back to normal, and Lubovitch threw everything at us. Bodies made intricate scalloped orbits, groups ebbed and flowed in and out of sight, pirouettes unfurled. Against a section of calliope music in Richard Woodbury’s dizzying soundscape, which ranged from symphonic to nefarious, the dancers’ spirals resembled dizzying carnival rides. As the lights dimmed to a blackout, two lines of dancers meshed like the gears of a well-oiled machine, receding into the void.

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