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Flash Review 2, 10-23: Decadent Display
Fireworks from Re-born Lubovitch Troupe
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2001 Susan Yung
NEW YORK -- Lar Lubovitch presented
a rich evening's program at City Center, watched on Oct. 17. In fact, by the end
of the night, it felt so rich that it was downright decadent. But it was the good
kind of decadence, like eating one too many chocolate truffles, or watching a
big fireworks display whose grand finale keeps building and building.
The program began with a new production
of "The Wedding," which outfitted Lubovitch's 1976 choreography with new costumes
by Ann Hould-Ward and sets by Brian Webb. To Stravinsky's still-abrasive sounding
score of "Les Noces," the story provided a solid framework on which Lubovitch
could hang phrases evocative of Nijinski, yet based in the Soviet era. In front
of a giant Socialist Realist portrait of Lenin, he favored angled arms, flexed
feet, pumping fists, and limbs unfurling to form human X's. The dancers, in wide
fourth position, swung their arms like heavy pendulums, swiftly shifting direction
by sweeping their legs a quarter-turn more and shifting their subtly their shoulders.
Lubovitch has assembled a cast of
dancers who are roundly excellent, or in any case are well cast to their strengths
-- so much so, that it is difficult to single any out. Nancy Bannon and Jason
McDole played the couple, their diminutive sizes underscoring their rolesā youthfulness
and their understandable trepidation at their impending arranged marriage, into
which they ultimately entered resignedly. Hould-Ward's costumes, while authentic
in their rustic fullness and layers, hindered a clear reading of the crisp dancing
surely going on beneath. And Webb's sets approached the operatic in scale, perhaps
a bit literal and time-specific for this everyman ceremony.
"My Funny Valentine," a world premiere,
was a duet for American Ballet Theatre guesters Sandra Brown and Marcelo Gomes,
danced to a live rendition of the Richard Rodgers chestnut. Perfectly matched
and simply costumed, Brown and Gomes were a physical embodiment of an ideal of
love. The final partnering move, made as both sit back to back on the stage, has
Brown effortlessly carve a circle in front of Gomes's head, sliding serenely into
a reclining position. I wished Gomes, who in one instance seemed to wrestle a
little with Lubovitch's vocabulary, had been given more to show off his wonderful
technique, still lingering in my mind from the last ABT season.
City Center seemed a better, roomier
stage for the dark, hypnotic "Men's Stories (A Concerto in Ruin)," than the venue
at which it premiered last season, the Angel Orensanz Foundation. The nine men
comprising the cast are such powerful stage presences to a person that a bit more
distance to the audience did not detract from their projection. The ensemble enters
like a flock of big birds, silent and majestic, rotating around one another, each
taking a turn cutting the path. They take turns in solo, displaying the unique
way of moving that, in this level of dancer, is increasingly defined with age
There is so much lush movement to
this dance that by the end of the first movement, the audience was halfway to
their feet ready to give an ovation. Then began the second movement, which was
even more stunning. A soloist dancer or a few at a time, the men would form a
tableau, but they wouldn't lock into position; one would continue the movement,
drawing the eye to a certain spot on the stage. While Lubovitch may sometimes
rely upon conventional methods of composition available to every choreographer,
such as oppositional diagonals, or arranging the dancers in graduating levels
to lead the gaze a certain way, there doesn't seem to be a contemporary who can
so consistently manufacture such kinetic beauty. The original score, by Scott
Marshall, a collage of all types of music layered with spoken passages and electronica,
added a note of dissonance.
"Men's Stories" dripped with decadence,
of the cumulative narratives of Lubovitch and the dancers. They moved so eloquently
that I was exhausted from "listening" to what they had to tell, yet privileged
to have heard.
Dancers in this year's edition of
the Lar Lubovitch company were Nancy Bannon, Stefanie Batten Bland, Griff Braun,
Sandra Brown, Gerald Casel, Elisa Clark, Nancy Colahan, Philip Gardner, Marcelo
Gomes, Roger C. Jeffrey, Marc Mann, Jason McDole, Scott Rink, Kevin Scarpin, Michael
Thomas, and Shila Tirabassi.
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