LAR LUBOVITCH DANCE COMPANY
April 25, 2018
Lar Lubovitch is primarily discussed in terms of his keen musical sensibility
as well as the smoothed out classical movement he effortlessly spins to his
selections. Program B of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company’s 50 th Anniversary season at
the Joyce demonstrated these conventions speaking to a larger concern – the
redemption of masculinity.
The two couplings of the four pieces each began showing, contrary to our
current moment, how a man could both be and be seen, subsequently paired with a
work with a more troubled air. Little Rhapsodies features Jonathan Alsberry, Reed
Luplau, and Benjamin Wardell in a piece simply about taking turns. Schumann’s
Symphonic Etudes even gets to take space, preceding the curtain’s opening on the
three, standing in silhouette.
They see each other and then dance together, weaving
through and holding each other in a purely platonic manner – a challenge for many
men, sexuality notwithstanding. This segues into a rotation of solos, the spatial
cooperation of which feels subversive in its politeness. As their percussive footwork
unearths folksy roots in Schumann’s signature off-kilter style, their playfulness
exposes the childlike in grown-up bodies.
The subsequent collection of scenes from Act III of Lubovitch’s Othello is a
jarring aesthetic jump, replacing Rhapsodies’ airy ballet-ish movement to
recognizable classical music with pointe shoes, a commissioned score, and period
costumes. It is in these scenes we see Othello’s jealousy taking over him, as
manipulated by Iago (Temur Suluashvili), who goes about his false accusations of
Desdemona’s adultery via a rather erotic duet with Fabrice Calmels. Cassio (Rory
Hohenstein) is already falsely in chains, and we end with Othello’s ill-advised
murder of Desdemona. The programmatic placement emboldens what Rhapsodies
works to amend – entitlement-induced possessiveness and territoriality.
Lubovitch’s newest work, Something About Night returns us to a utopian
environment, scored by Schubert’s heartachingly tender Songs for Male Chorus. The
cast, however, includes Nicole Corea and Belinda McGuire, amid three additional
men, equally engaged in suspended flow. If Rhapsodies shows a man’s arm around a
man’s shoulder as nonsexual, Something About Night renders sexuality irrelevant to
sensuality in its crafting of tableaus, whirling, intimate, and architecturally sound.
Again, we shift from pleasantry to turmoil with Men’s Stories. While the title
sets up a first-time viewer to expect danced mansplaining, the subtitle “A Concerto
in Ruin,” hints at the dissolution to come. Harmless displays of fraternity begin via
virtuosic sequences and cheeky pantomimed machismo activities in sleek black
suits by Ann Hould-Ward, placing the cast of nine anywhere from CEOs to showmen
to military officials. Once we hear a voiceover of a vintage “birds and the bees” talk
from father to son, we begin to see their command confined, emblematic of the harm
patriarchy does towards its beneficiaries when it prescribes unregulated success
seeking as manhood.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews