Lar Lubovitch And His Phalanx of Cute Guys, Julianne's Awesome Samba on DWTS, and Fabulously Weird Boris Eifman

Sorry this post is about so many diverse dancey things; just too busy and have to blog all at once…

Last night I went to see the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company at the Skirball Center at NYU. Three works were performed, two of which were world premieres: “Little Rhapsodies” starring Dance Magazine readers’ “sexiest dancer of the year,” Rasta Thomas :)

(above pic taken from his website)

along with Jay Franke and the amazing Sean Stewart; and “Dvorak Serenade,” featuring Drew Jacoby, one of the most beautifully muscular women I’ve seen. I really liked “Rhapsodies,” the piece for the three men, which, set to Robert Schumann music, was by turns cute and sexy, humorous, jazzy, and lyrical. And, Thomas :) He really is good-looking, with a very charming stage personality. The piece was kind of quietly, sweetly understated until about three-quarters of the way through, when he came running out and did this spectacular tour jete (that’s a turn and leap all in one — go here and look up jete entrelace to see Vladminir Malakhov demonstrate). The Serenade was beautiful as well: lyrical with light, diaphonous costumes on both women and men. A contemporary piece, there was no pointe work, so you could really see the dancers’ gorgeously arched feet, particularly Jacoby’s.

My favorite piece of the night though was “Love’s Stories,” from 2005, with three pretty, lifty duets by various couples, and two jazzy solos by Stewart. That man has no bones in his arms at all — they moved so fluidly and at times with such speed they were a shadowy blur. The second pas de deux was my favorite: “Prelude to Kiss,” danced by Marty Lawson and Kate Skarpetowska. One of the most romantic, sexiest I’ve ever seen — at the end he tugs her top straps down her shoulders and plants a passionate kiss on her neck; she collapses in his arms … yes, if a man wants to kiss you, he should be so bold — but only after picking you up and carrying you all around the room for a good 10 minutes :)

Also, I just have to say, there were all these good-looking guys in the audience. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many at one performance. I wondered if they were dancers. During the first intermission, Mr. Lubovitch quietly, nonchalantly walked into the orchestra and took a seat two rows down from me. At the second intermission, all the cute guys immediately gravitated toward him, where they hovered about, chatting him up. So, they were dancers, or at least involved in dance, and with Lar. So, there it is: go to a Lar Lubovitch performance and see hot guys :) — both onstage and in the audience :)

Anyway, I was surprised to see that the house was not very packed. People are paying big bucks to see Thomas dance Othello at the Met in the spring, but you can see him up close for only $40 here… There are two programs; Program B, which I didn’t see, includes a piece performed by the Limon Dance Company but excludes Stewart’s solos from Love’s Stories. It’s on through the 21st; go here for tickets.

Onto Dancing With the Stars. The highlight for me this week was definitely Julianne Hough‘s samba. When I first saw her walks, I thought, wow, she’s a pro and she’s not doing those cruzado walks with the proper technique at all. But boy did they look enticing. And they also looked familiar. After she did that mad fun squatting pelvic roll with undulating rib cage, which I’ve never seen in ballroom but have most definitely seen in Quenia Ribeiro‘s Rio / Carnival-style class at the Ailey studios, I realized that those alternative, rather runway-looking cruzado walks were familiar to me because I’ve seen them on Quenia’s tape, as well as in Carnival videos on YouTube. She was basically fusing formal, ballroom samba with the social, Rio-style form of the dance, and to very fun effect. I thought she was simply beautiful! And obviously the judges felt the same since they had Apolo and her re-perform their routine last night. I’ve often found this rather annoying reluctance by ballroom dancers to think outside the official syllabi so I really appreciate someone who can and will do that. So go Julianne!!!

That said, of course I’m annoyed that Heather was in the bottom two, over John, especially after the judges said something to her that really resonated with me– that she, more than anyone else, really knew how to let loose, have fun, and act like no one was watching, which is, I think, the first hurdle any beginning dancer has to overcome… you can’t free yourself to dance until you’ve made the decision to shed certain inhibitions. Well, she may well not be on the show after next week, and, at this point, I just feel like throwing my hands up and saying, ‘oh well… what can you do?’ I kind of liked Clyde too, personality-wise — he was such a sweet little thing … or sweet big thing rather! — but he wasn’t that good dance-wise, so it’s okay that he’s gone…

I also like that they’re showing the celebrities having “normal” busy lives. This is how real people who take ballroom dance lessons are as well — okay, we’re not out filming episodes of our TV shows and traveling to China and England every weekend, but we have jobs, we work, and we’re not professional dancers who spend 80 hours a week in the studio. So, I felt like that kind of sent a jolt of reality into the dancing aspect of the show: see, you can only get so good when you actually have to work for a living and dance isn’t your full-time occupation.

Tonight I went to see the “The Seagull” by the Eifman Ballet, a company based in St. Petersburg, Russia. When I’d gone to her reading a couple of weeks ago, critic Joan Acocella called choreographer Boris Eifman “a menace to society.” She did this in an eye-rolling, definitely not joking way. After seeing them tonight, I have to say, I have no idea what she was talking about. Actually, that’s not true — I could see how someone might feel that way about his work. But, for me, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen this year. It was fantastically weird, over the top, melodramatic, completely angst-filled, over-acted, by turns mesmerizingly beautiful, creepy, and frightening, and, as one person sitting near me said, “chaotic.” But to me all that’s exactly what made it. For one thing it was the antithesis of boring — don’t think I’ve ever been so entranced all the way through a full-length ballet; for another, I felt like Eifman was kind of ridiculing the melodrama of classical ballet. If he’s a “menace” to the dance world; it’s a menace in a good kind of way — someone who holds a kind of funhouse mirror up to something revered, compelling you to think about what you’re seeing. The main music was by Rachmaninoff, flavored with interludes of hip hop and techno. A modern reinterpretation of the classical and based on the Chekhov play, the choreography was stunning, the sets were used to brilliant effect, and the dancers were just incredible. It was like a company of all Wendy Whelans or something– everyone, men and women alike, had that long, beyond thin, hyper-flexible, sinewy-muscled body that moved as if there were no ligaments or tendons whatsoever to constrict it. And, I just feel like Russians just own the world of ballet, both classical and modern, — they just do. Even the hip hop was rapturous. When I left City Center tonight, I felt more than ever before how much I regret giving up dance as a child…

12 Comments

  1. Ugh, yet another performance blocks away from me that I am missing. Sean is a friend of mine and having worked with Lar on Othello I was really looking forward to this. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

  2. I LOVED Sean! He was my favorite, even though Rasta is the big celebrity :) You have been sick for a while now … I hope you get better soon…

  3. Yes, I thought Julianne was phenomenal with her samba this week! What a terrific dancer she is! Youth, beauty and immense talent – she has the whole package. I also admired Apolo for keeping up with her as well as he did. I still believe that he and Laila are the best two celebrity dancers in the competition. As for Heather ending up in the bottom two (below Billy Ray and John), this is yet another example of the warped, misguided audience voting. At least, the audience had the decency to give her more votes than Clyde. I mean, he seems to be a very nice man and all (and he was an outstanding basketball player in his day) but it was definitely time for him to go.

    I may not agree with you that the Russians own the world of ballet, but I am sorry that I missed the Eifman Ballet. That performance sounded genuinely exciting. This is one of the disadvantages of living in the suburbs, two hours away from the city – we just don’t get as many opportunities to taste all the diverse aesthetic experiences that you city folk do. There are many wonderful aspects of living in Eastern Long Island but hopping on the subway and going to see the Eifman ballet on a weeknight is not one of them

  4. tonya, the nyu skirball center website says that marcelo gomes will be a guest artist in “love stories”…but the nytimes review (and your review!) does not mention marcelo. is he joining the cast for program b? (tonight’s performance, which i will be attending?)

    loooove rasta thomas. one hot man.

  5. Hi Jennifer — oh my gosh, I didn’t know that! The program said nothing about him being in either program a or b, and I know he definitely wasn’t there on Tuesday night! Funny, though, I did hear two ladies in the bathroom mention his name, but I assumed they were talking about Othello or his prior work with Lar or something. Tonight I think is their annual benefit gala so maybe the programming will be different? I can’t go unfortunately; I have opera tickets (for once in my life :) ) — Please let me know how it goes and if he dances!!

    I know, Rasta is really good-looking :) And he was just standing around after the show in the bottom lobby area, looking nice and totally approachable!

  6. Hey tonya….so I found out I have Epstein Barr virus. Similar to mono but hopefully not as harsh and not as contagious. Frustrating to say the least but trying to keep my head up about it. Looks like I will be out for a bit but keeping my fingers crossed for a swift recovery. Hope you are well.

  7. Oh no. That’s what DT said she once had, right? I’ve never heard of it. Well, at least it’s not as bad as mono. Still that really sucks since the Met is just around the corner. Hopefully you won’t be out for that long! Maybe you can use the time to read all the books you’ve been wanting to read, and work on your poetry? Oh, get well soon! And in the meantime, keep blogging :)

  8. am i mistaken but isn’t epstein barr virus mono?

    why was rasta standing around? how funny. he is super nice!

  9. ha ha — I don’t know why he was standing around, actually. I went to go to the bathroom, and he was down in that area of the lobby just kind of hanging out and smiling at people, and a couple of people came up and talked to him. He could have left during the second intermission because he was done after the second piece, but he waited around, maybe to watch the other premiere, on last, or maybe just since it was opening night they were having a reception or something…. It was kind of funny actually, ‘cuz he was standing right in front of the ladies room!

  10. Tonya, going to try to sneak away from my apartment tonight to see this. About how long is the program? Thanks!

  11. It’s not that long — just about 2 hours including intermissions. Have fun, and be careful!

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