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Dance: LAR LUBOVITCH DANCE COMPANY celebrates its 45th Anniversary at the Joyce Theatre

By Linda Diamond
November 2013 online

An award winning master of Modern Dance choreography, Lar Lubovitch celebrated the 45th anniversary of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company at the Joyce Theatre in NYC on October 15. The varied program explored the inner tension of contemporary life issues.

He charts a graph of the heart through dramatically charged movement which cries out to the soul of the audience. Choreographer Lubovitch who has trained with the masters of Modern Dance at the Juilliard school, maintains his own visionary outlook. However the unsinkable spirit he inherited from Anna Sokolow, Jose Limon, and Martha Graham has helped to chisel his commitment to dances relating to the human condition.

As sleep befell Lar Lubovitch Dance CompanyLar Lubovitch Dance Company
“As Sleep Befell” Photo: Steven Schreiber

AS SLEEP BEFELL seemed to explore our subconscious sleep state while live music was conducted by Ransom Wilson for composer Paola Prestini. Helga Davis, the singer created syncopated and haunting vocals. Her fluid voice blended into an echo chamber accompaniment for the dancers' sleep journey. The music group was Le Train Bleu.

The opening scene revealed 6 male dancers lying bare chested center stage as their sparse movements reflected tossing and turning in unison as though one person. Setting the tone for the ensuing sleep journey, the dynamics soon took off in a flight of athleticism and wit, accompanying the following dream sequences. A complex web of surrealist imagery parallels the non sequitur imagery along with upward bound momentum. The choreography was injected with unexpected humor when the male chorus suddenly performed. African style dance phrases complete with earthy hip movement and arms linked. The wonderful billowing loose fitting white trousers had vertical slits which resembled sails. This allowed for the movement to set sail during the Roman gladiator section, complete with imaginary chariots, bows and arrows. Partnering each other with adventurous lifts, the dancers resembled a nocturnal flight of angels traveling in sleep-propelled spaceships. Choreographer Lubovitch successfully delves into the collective unconscious with AS SLEEP BEFELL. The dancers who projected the theme with excitement and dramatic commitment were Anthony Bocconi, Jonathan Alsberry, Clifton Brown, Attila Csiki, Oliver Greene- Cramer, and Reed Luplau.

Crisis Variations Lar Lubovitch Dance Company“Crisis Variations” Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Pictured: Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Brian McGinnis
(photo by Paula Lobo)

CRISIS VARIATIONS was a work that explored the dark, still side of life. Earth bound movement helped to create tension while contrasting with athletic lifts by male dancers with each other, and rolls which dropped into grounded movement.

TRANSPARENT THINGS was based on the Saltimbanques Family painting by Pablo Picasso who created the somber traveling circus characters in 1905. Inspired by the melancholy and sadness exhibited in the painting, the choreographer expressed a parallel of angst and struggle that belie the outer glamour that dancers also face as performers. Joyous lifts and entwined movement by groups of four dancers created sculptural imagery that resembled one person in its unusual formations and curvatures. Live music by Bryant Park Quartet enhanced the tension throughout the dance. Performing the Debussy score were Anna Elashvili and Ben Russell on violins, Nathan Schram,viola and Tomoko Fujiita on cello. According to choreographer Lubovitch, TRANSPARENT THINGS relates to the ephemeral quality that dance is, leaving only traces in the "transparent realm of memory."

As sleep befell Lar Lubovitch Dance CompanyLar Lubovitch Dance Company “Listen”
Choreography by Katarzyna Skarpetowska
(Photo: Steven Schreiber)

LISTEN was a choreography by company member Katarzyna Skarpetowska accompanied by a powerful score created by Paola Prestini. This duet danced by Nicole Corea and Reed Luplau used ongoing movement conflict with extreme athleticism to evoke the dynamics of a highly charged relationship. Breathless syncopation fraught with tension continued nonstop with no moments of tenderness expressed. In the final scene, male dancer Reed Luplau was sprawled on the ground reaching for the unattainable after his partner Nicole Corea disappeared.

CRAZY 8's, another choreography by Lubovitch, and the final work on the program, completely changed the previous dramatic moods with its high end satire and subtle humor. The dance featured latter day cowboys and cowgirls costumed cleverly by Fritz Masten, had stylish music by Randall Woolf, and evoked a strong Americana style of dance in a contemporary updated twist. Fabulous sunlit lighting by Jack Mehler helped to place the mood of this dance, while the cowboys pranced, preened and melted into duets, group works and old fashioned square dancing. The latter was reminiscent of Agnes DeMille's Rodeo and Eugene Loring's "Billy the Kid," now considered classics in dance. Sardonic movement statements pervaded and ignited a lively and amusing end to the evening's program. Contributing to the choreography as mentioned in the program notes were dancers Anthony Bocconi, Jonathan Alsberry, Clifton Brown, Attila Joey Csiki, Reed Luplau, Laura Rutledge, and Katarzyna Skarpetowska.

Choreographer Lubovitch knows how to make each of his works immediately theatrically legible as he invites the audience into the magical realm of reality and imagination through dance genius. After viewing Lar Lubovitch on his 45th anniversary season at the Joyce Theatre , it is obvious why he is considered one of America's most versatile and popular choreographers.

His latest awards include the 2012 Prix de Benois de la Danse at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, The Astaire Award for “The Red Shoes” on Broadway, and several others. Lubovitch is also known for his contribution to the field of ice dancing with "The Planets" and the "Sleeping Beauty" created for PBS Television. Indeed he is a National Treasure of Dance.

LINDA DIAMOND is a choreographer &. producer of (Saturdays 11am-noon). She is also the Artistic director of Linda Diamond & Co. and the annual Woodstock Diamond Dance Festival.

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