Friday, November 12, 2010

Lar Lubovitch and Dance reminiscence

(photo by Jack Mitchell)

Lar Lubovitch came to UMASS Fine Arts Center on November 2nd. He has always been one of my favorite choreographers, spanning ballet and modern dance. Dance teacher Jim Coleman called him a 'dancers choreographer' - it just feels so good to embody much of his movement.

I encouraged the FAC to bring this often unknown-to-the-general-public 'legend' to UMASS.

Here was my review:

Having studied with Lar over 30 years ago, I was excited to see him and the company once more. Lar has been one of the most versatile choreographers of his generation. The revival of classics North Star and Marimba was a wonderful choice, especially for me. I could recall the movements and viscerally re-experience these pieces (parts of which I had learned) along with the dancers. The music, essence, and flow of the dance did recall an era, but also created a mesmerizing mood for a contemporary audience. The duet was beautifully danced- sweet. However, while the Coltrane piece, ‘My Favorite Things’ was fascinating for it’s reference to the historical development of American theatrical jazz dance – smooth lyrical jazz, with amusing movement ‘quotations’ from legendary choreographers and teachers like Jack Cole and Luigi, it did not capture the raw and energetic essence of Coltrane’s musicians. Lar said this piece was tightly constructed musically, and he wished to capture and convey the structure as well as the beat era spirit, yet it would have been wonderful, and perhaps had more impact, to have the dancers break loose either in improvisational sections or within the choreography with more of an earthy Afro-American and vernacular jazz vocabulary and ‘attitude’. The piece, except for one duet, came aross as cute and tame, rather than ‘hot’ and kick-ass powerful and complex like Coltrane. Having seen other works of Lar, I know he can capture and convey power and energy. Lar said he chose these pieces for continuity, and some of the audience enjoyed the consistency and were carried along with the flow from start to finish. Yet Lar’s range of repertoire includes many dramatic and varied pieces. I wished he had included some for a change of perspective and style. I think the FAC audience would welcome this company back with a more varied program of works; different stylistic focus, dramatic themes, costuming, and energy. All in all, thank you FAC for reaching out to bring us great dance, and please continue to do so!

Here are also links on dance (Lar and history) that might be of interest: Feel free to share:

Great overview and timeline of Jazz Dance Development and personalities:

My daughter Mariel and I move within the framework of Lindy with heritage from George Snowdon and Whiteys' Lindy Hoppers to contemporary dance. I studied with Luigi teachers, Matt Mattox, Lynn Simonson, and at the Ailey school- with Nat Horne, Pepsi Bethel, and (they don't mention Thelma Hill) I worked briefly with Bill T Jones, and other modern 'fusionists' like Jennifer Muller and Louis Falco,and was influenced by Twyla. I studied with students/dancers of others like Jo Jo Smith, Phil Black, Gus Giordano, Donny McKayle and took in their styles in various choreogaphy. We have all watched and absorbed Gene Kelly and Astaire into our movement memories.

Mari studied with former members of Twyla Tharp, and Daniel Nagrin

Some other links of interest- Biography:

A conversation with Peggy Baker (My contemporary) talking very clearly and full of knowledge of Lar's work: <

I loved Lar's works Whirligogs and Time Before the Time After, Les Noces, Girl on Fire , and the Day of Dead piece set on the Limon Company.
(photo by Rosalie O'Connor)

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