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Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Falling in Love, Again

by Cecly Placenti

April 19, 2007 -- Skirball Center, New York University, NYC

It was just a Thursday evening in New York City, but I fell in love with dance, again. How could I not swoon at the lush lyricism and cascading sweeps of movement Lar Lubovitch and his breathtaking company of dancers are masters of? How could I not surrender totally to the propulsion of dancing informed and guided by the power of music?

Lubovitch’s first premiere, “Little Rhapsodies,” was a sprightly game for three male virtuosos set to Schumann’s “Symphonic Etudes,” performed live by pianist Pedja Muzijevic. Rasta Thomas, Jay Franke, and Sean Stewart teased the music, played with the timing, the space, choreography and each other. Traditional steps surprised with unusual beats, accents or arm gestures. A rhapsody, the ecstatic, enthusiastic expression of a feeling, was precisely defined in this driving, buoyant trio, which was really a series of intersecting solos. Mr. Lubovitch has the ability to create movements for his dancers that draw out their special qualities while still creating a unifying whole. In Thomas we see bone-splitting sensual passion, poignant expressiveness in quiet moments, and energy so gigantic and boundless it set the room on fire. Stewart’s dancing is clean pertness, glistening, easy perfection, cool ease like sunlight reflecting off a lake. Franke wins hearts with his boyish exuberance, fervent dynamism and joyful attack, a wide smile shining on his lips throughout. “Little Rhapsodies” is a dancer’s dance--athletic, bounding, joyous, the kind of dance that makes your leg muscles twitch as you watch it, your body longing to join in.

In well-thought out contrast to the first piece, Duets from the larger piece “Love’s Stories” showcased three couples dancing to the jazzy music of Kurt Elling. “Prelude to a Kiss,” the first duet, performed by Marty Lawson and Kate Skarpetowska, was sexy and sultry, the couple sliding and intertwining as if they were moving through honey. Seeming to comment on the sexual side of love, “Prelude” presented beautiful, organic partnering and seamless movement. “Everytime We Say Goodbye” spoke of love’s leaving, the push and pull of goodbye. Danced by the articulate Charlie Neshyba-Hodges and Harumi Terayama, this was the most heartfelt of the duets, witty and wrenching, as in the final moment when Neshyba-Hodges reached out to Terayama and then yanked his hand away right before they made contact, leaving her onstage deflated, staring at the empty space his hand only moments before had occupied. To wash away the heartache, enter Franke again with his perky charms! Partnering Charlaine Mei Katsuyoshi in a fun giddy Charleston-type dance, the couple threw themselves together with the abandon of young lovers.

As a special treat, the Limon Dance Company performed as guest artists in Lubovitch’s  “Recordare,” a kitschy, humorous riff on the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. The cast of characters included widows, brides and grooms, spirits, dead people, and the Grim Reaper himself. A colorful danse macabre, “Recordare” seemed to poke fun at the Mexican traditions of welcoming home the spirits of the deceased. It was a silly and amusing number, very different from the rest of the program.

With his premiere of “Dvorak Serenade,” Lubovitch pampered his audience with the dance equivalent of a hot stone massage. In darkness, a corps of ten dancers began to move slowly onto the stage, milky and soft like a sea anemone. Lubovitch is a choreographer who knows how to use the space, how to move dancers in spiraling motions and smoothly designed entrances, exits and encounters. He uses swirling and often unexpected patterns and invokes pleasure in the repetitive curves of the dancers’ arms and torsos. The entire piece has the effect of water eddying and flowing around itself into lines, circles and melting geometric shapes, grounded, yet effervescent. Certain sections were dazzling, with the corps quick and springy, making constantly shifting and intersecting patterns on the stage. Scott Rink inhabits Lubovitch’s movement as if it were  speaking his own name. Guest dance goddess Drew Jacoby is luscious with her exceedingly long limbs and never ending line, and their partnering was like water falling down rocks, getting caught and swirling into its new confinement.  While the movement of this magical piece never actually stopped, its expansiveness was not the equivalent of a run-on sentence, but a conversation. I had a smile on my face the entire evening.

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