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Lar Lubovitch Dance CompanyCity Center week !!/5 - 11/8


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#1 zerbinetta

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 04:44 PM

If you put Paul Taylor and Mark Morris in a blender, set it to liquefy and remove the genius, you'd likely come up with a recipe for Lar Lubovitch.

He's musical; once in a while he's funny. He chooses the music well. He's tasteful. But the vocabulary is so limited, the choices so predictable, the emotional subtext so banal. He's likable, never pretentious or manipulative. But there's no variety, no brilliance. It's something of a mystery to me why the group is celebrating its Fortieth Anniversary Season. Apparently to fairly well sold houses.

Thursday night's program started with Concerto Six Twenty Two, set to the great Mozart Clarinet Concerto. I remember liking the adagio section (duet for two men) twenty years ago. Maybe it was better danced than last night or maybe I've wearied of Lubovitch since. A very communal piece with lots of swirling and undulating lines of dancers generally set on a diagonal stage right to left. And then some more of same. And then some more ..

The second piece was North Star, set to music of the same title by Philip Glass. I had seen this before. Unfortunately I didn't realize this until halfway through the first section. Lubovitch has choreographed the percussive baseline and only rarely acknowledges the melodic line laid over. Because the baseline is so predictable the choreography follows suit. More undulating lines, right to left, sometimes with dancers going into deep plie. Right about here I had a flashback to being on a sailboat in BVI when a zesty storm broke out and the horizon disappeard. Same queasy feeling in the tummy. Now and then someone would be hoiked up on the shoulders of others. Then again. Then I would say to myself "Isn't it about time for yet another hoiking?" and sure enough here it comes.

The reasons I attended at all involved the third piece. I was assured by a friend (part of the greater critical world of dance) that Lubovitch's later works were more varied and interesting. And Rasta Thomas was in it. It's titled Little Rhapsodies and set to Schumann's Symphonic Etudes. Choreographed 2007. Not a bad piece but a total riff on Robbins' Other Dances and set on three men, piano onstage. Rasta was worth the ticket. Such a commanding, intense, powerful dancer. Also notable was Atilla Joey Csiki for his classic line and lyricism.

I opted out of Dvorak Serenade as it is also on the Saturday night program, for which I unaccountably also have tickets. Whether I will be able to report on this or not will depend on my degree of masochism when the moment arrives.

#2 papeetepatrick

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 06:56 PM

zerbinetta--I thought some of the even earlier work was beautiful. I remember an early 70s concert at American Theater Lab, which was this small place in the West 20s, I believe, and 2 of the 3 works I still remember, one pretty well and another vividly: These were called 'Clear Lake' and 'Joy of Man's Desiring'. These were poetic. But if you look across the whole career, it has some quality of the shrewd trendy to it, which wouldn't mean that weren't very good things in it, but I never liked any of the subsequent work as much as those two 'young pieces'. He had one great dancer, Jeanne Solan, who is more well-known for some wonderful work with Kylian, some of which is recorded (including
'Cathedral Engloutie'). I think Lubovitch made 'Joy of Man's Desiring' for Solan, and she was magnetic.

#3 zerbinetta

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 11:42 PM

The works I remember enjoying, back when, were November Steps, a Zen-ish piece and Symphony in D, which was quite funny. Sorry I missed the Bach. I don't know that he's done it lately but perhaps it's one of those pieces that needs that one special dancer. Whose music was Clear Lake?

I like and agree with your "shrewd trendy" designation but it's a mighty tenacious trend after 40 years.

#4 papeetepatrick

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:31 AM

I can't for the life of me remember the composer of 'Clear Lake', but the piece had been inspired by a summer season at Jacob's Pillow. I imagine 'Joy of Man's Desiring' was tailor-made for Solan, who had this marvelous Picasso kind of face, with very deep, intelligent eyes, and was very musical, she could have been a very good Pioneer Woman in 'Appalachian Spring'. 'Shrewd trendies' are by their nature the tenacious ones--it's just that it's the kind of thing that usually is more associated with rock figures who have been able to keep their audience even as they have aged, with Madonna the epitome of it (although not nearly the oldest). What it doesn't have is an inner line you can follow, or at least keep some kind of track of, from one work to the next as with Graham or Balanchine. Ambition comes in different forms, and these get different results.

#5 rg

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 10:43 AM

NYPL cat. entries on the two works mentioned above:

Clear lake: Chor, cos & lighting: Lar Lubovitch; mus: Felix Mendelssohn, (String quartet, op. 12, 3rd and 4th movements). First perf: New York, Stage City, Nov 17, 1971, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Joy of man's desiring : Chor, cos & lighting: Lar Lubovitch; mus: Johann Sebastian Bach (various movements from suites for unacc. violoncello, and Air from Orchestral suite no. 3). First perf: London, Jeannetta Cochrane Theatre, Sept 28, 1972, Ballet Rambert. Originally titled, and still known in England as Considering the lilies

#6 zerbinetta

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 03:16 PM

Thanks rg.


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