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Flash Review 2, 11-29:
Moving Men's Stories for All
Lubovitch's Universal 'Ruins'
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse
The interior of the Orensanz
Center for the Arts is a fantastical space, with lavishly patinaed
surfaces speaking of its rich cultural history as one of the city's
first synagogues. In this setting, Lar Lubovitch's evening-length
"Men's Stories," subtitled "A Concerto in Ruins," establishes its
haunting, ethereal elegance.
The title of the piece
is misleading. When the nine dancers take the stage, dressed in
Ann Hould-Ward's cutaway coats, they happen to all be male, but
they don't tell us so much about what it means or feels like to
be men, as they reveal themselves as flawed, layered, and vulnerable
humans. Lubovitch tells a story as individual as himself and as
universal as us all, that touches on nostalgia and longing and frailty.
The first movement, "Allegro
Giacoso," plunges a fleet of Edwardian fops into intricate floor
patterns and ornate gesture. Ports de bras drip over strutting,
arrogant legwork. The eye cannot rest on what seems to be a debris
of 19th century tropes of Romantic male melancholy. Narcissus appears,
as does Onegin. Bodies churn and swirl, leap and lunge. Solos, duets
and trios emerge, and are flung from precise unison. Scott Rink
and Jason McDole are suddenly engaged in a fluid duet to the tinkling
of a piano, Michael Thomas whispers into a microphone. Or maybe
those things happen in the second movement, "Adagio Maestoso."
There is pleasure in
noticing the individualities of each performer as he executes the
virtuosic vocabulary. Some are shy, some sly. Gerald Casel's hands
blur in the fury of his attack. Rink's remarkable final solo is
an agony of contortion.
Scott Marshall's score,
a combination of audio collage and original music, creeps into your
ear like a laudanum dream, layering a deconstruction of Beethoven
with recordings of John Giorno, lectures on health and the occasional
When the men preen and
gesticulate in poses superficially "macho," the work disintegrates
into mimicry and pantomime. "Masculinity" becomes a drag, a mask,
or as Judith Butler might say, an impersonation for which there
is no original. The core of Lubovitch's work is something much deeper;
the nine souls onstage are stripped to some essential bundle of
human-ness, boys struggling to shoulder the contradictions of manhood.
Or perhaps Lubovitch, now in his fifties, is revisiting moments
of his artistry's development. The dancers' interactions feel intensely
personal. Regardless of gender, they use Lubovitch's gorgeous line
and detailed filigree to tell tales.
"Men's Stories" plays
through December 8. For performance days and times, please call
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