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Lar Lubovitch's "Black Rose" | Photo NYC Dance Project Lar Lubovitch's "Black Rose" | Photo NYC Dance Project

REVIEW: Lar Lubovitch Dance Company at Joyce Theater

Midway through The Black Rose, the second work on Lar Lubovitch Dance Company’s program at the Joyce, the thought surfaced: I really miss Trey McIntyre. When McIntyre shuttered his company this past June, optimists chirped about what bright new adventures the dancers would go on to, each one more talented than the last. It was exciting. We were hopeful.

Where were those cheerful chirpers when Chanel DaSilva, formerly the star of Trey McIntyre Project, showed up as a member of a pack of black-mesh-and-leather-clad would-be rave kids, gyrating tonelessly in the background of a garish nightmare story ballet? This program was neither bright, new, nor an adventure, just a thoroughly disappointing look at what Lubovitch’s 46-year-old company has been reduced to—and what its terrific dancers are contending with.

Artemis in Athens begins with an endearing address from “Scoutmaster” Jonathan E. Alsberry, welcoming us to a pageant and introducing its stars, notably guest artist Alessandra Ferri. The campy costumes and set design (wooden cutouts of pine trees) elicited giggles. It’s all initially charming. Ferri’s first moments are her most powerful, as she executes a focused, cool walk straight downstage. Even in a Girl Scout uniform, she is unmistakably the goddess of the hunt.

Again, the performances are great; Reid Bartelme as the princely hero is phenomenally elegant and believably wounded, Mucuy Bolles as the damsel in distress is technically razor-sharp, villain Barton Cowperthwaite’s buoyance heightens his unambiguously evil air, and the strength of the ensemble shines even through the commercial backup routines to which they’re mostly relegated.
Anna Rogovoy

Things unravel from here—the choreography’s militant adherence to the music and absurd pantomime seem like a mockery. Tobin Del Cuore gives a valiant performance in the role of Aktaion the hunter, up until his ridiculous “transformation” into a glittery-spotted deer, gamboling about and pawing at his own face. Ferri’s performance, while technically astute, is flat, marred by her consistent downward gaze. The most interesting sections are those for the ten Juilliard students who’ve joined the cast, and who do a fine job with Lubovitch’s meshlike spatial patterns.

The Black Rose draws on ancient folklore, marrying familiar plotlines with canned Tchaikovsky and inexplicable trap music. Again, the performances are great; Reid Bartelme as the princely hero is phenomenally elegant and believably wounded, Mucuy Bolles as the damsel in distress is technically razor-sharp, villain Artemis in Athens’s buoyance heightens his unambiguously evil air, and the strength of the ensemble shines even through the commercial backup routines to which they’re mostly relegated. There’s nothing surprising about the narrative, and no spontaneity in its telling. It’s over-the-top, melodramatic, and too gaudy for sincerity.

There is something to be said for art of any genre that entertains innocuously. However, in the field of dance, where funding is so scarce and visibility so often out of reach, it’s disheartening to see work that does so little to expand and enrich an audience’s view given such a high-profile engagement. These dancers, and all dance-goers, deserve better.

Post by Anna Rogovoy

Anna Rogovoy is a Brooklyn-based dancer, writer, and arts administrator. She is a member of Daniel Roberts and Dancers and the company manager of Dorrance Dance. She holds a B.A. with concentrations in dance and literature from Bennington College.

Comments (2)

  1. DM April 1, 2015 at 10:31 am

    This review of Lubovitch is ridiculous beyond all understanding or justification. when a proven master such as LL clearly CHOOSES to work in parody or satire ( ever hear of that?), as in these 2 superb dances, it is expected that any one who calls themselves a critic have some at least basic knowledge of where a creator of his age ( 70 something ) having created god only knows how many dances for a company that has existed 47 years, is coming from. For chrissake !! show some respect for someone who has been a major voice in dance for a lifetime and do some homework. To speak of a persons work with any clarity you have to see in relation to the body of work they have done . the gravity depth and seriousness his work has explored for many years of creating clearly indicate the direction he has chosen for these new works. Parody/satire is a voice rarely explored in dance let alone story telling in any form outside of ballet. Do you know anything of his contribution ? do you have any idea how his work has impacted the dance world? One of th most disheartening things is when a person brings an uneducated eye and a snobs approach to cast judgement on creators and appoint themselves as critics . A few years in college and some beginners time in the periphery of the dance world does not qualify you to judge. and this review most clearly proves my point. pay your dues and maybe some day your opinion will be worth something. i don’t imagine many people will read this letter or your review. I came upon it by chance while exploring dance reviews on the internet. But it raised my hackles as a former dancer and now dance educator for many years to see this dumbing down of dance criticism.
    Do you see no connection to the caliber of dancers you praise so highly and the possible reason they have chosen to be in Mr Lubovitchs work???? do you think it is an accident that the best dancers in NYC turn up constantly in this mans work? Do you have any idea why they choose to be there? i will leave you to figure that one out . Its legitimate to hate something or think it is awful, but to do that with any dignity one must rise to the occasion with intelligence and knowledge. you have the opportunity to acquire both and you owe it to the subject to do so. DM

    • Emeri Fetzer April 7, 2015 at 8:03 am

      DM,
      Thank you for taking time to comment here. We certainly respect the many contributions of Mr. Lubovitch and his dancers. It seems that you and Anna had a differing opinion on this particular performance. We are glad you would offer your thoughts so our readers can have access to diverse experiences.

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