Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Time Is Right for Lubovitch the Anachronistic Choreographer Celebrates 25 Years with His Company

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Time Is Right for Lubovitch the Anachronistic Choreographer Celebrates 25 Years with His Company

Article excerpt

LAR LUBOVITCH has worked in the performing arts long enough to appreciate good timing. After directing his own modern-dance company for 25 years, he can bring down the house with both synchronized steps and unexpected gestures. He knows about bad timing, too. Two weeks before the troupe opened its current run at New York's Joyce Theater, one of his dancers resigned.

Nevertheless, Lubovitch found a replacement in time to win over an opening-night audience that filled each interlude with enthusiastic applause. The company, which appears at the Joyce through Nov. 13, performed dances that Lubovitch and many critics agree are his greatest contribution to the art. Among them was his newest work, set to Cole Porter tunes, called "So In Love."

Now approaching his 50th birthday, Lubovitch has turned out more than 50 dances for his troupe and dozens more for ballet companies, Broadway musicals -- even Olympic ice skaters. What unites his repertoire is not a recurring theme or ambience but a penchant for rhapsodic movement and elaborate formal structures.

In an age when so much art aspires to philosophic abstraction or social commentary, Lubovitch brings an uncommon aesthetic sensibility. Indeed, he is among the few living choreographers who celebrate the beauty of pure movement. Ask him what his work is "about," and he begins to sound like a 19th-century poet.

"I'm creating beauty for the eye and for the imagination," he says. "And, as closely as I can, I'm trying to embody an abstract sort of truth."

Lubovitch spoke in the offices of the American Ballet Theater, with which he works closely. He has entrusted several of his dances to the ballet's repertory, including the finale to "The Red Shoes," the failed Broadway musical based on the 1948 film. The company returned the favor this month when it lent him a dancer to round out the program.

His manner is both gruff and reticent, and when he voices his opinions it is without a trace of arrogance. A native of Chicago, he puts on no airs. He is dressed for comfort, not style, in running shoes, black denim, and a cotton T-shirt. He is wearing wire-rimmed glasses, but no jewelry and no watch.

Lubovitch takes a dim view of current choreography. "So much of the dance that I see appears heartless, decorative, and overly intellectual," he says. "I like to associate the idea of dancing as a passionate act, as a very humanistic thing."

As a child, Lubovitch made up dances for his brother and two sisters "without really understanding that it was unusual or special." He also drew and painted, and it was these talents he worked to refine through courses at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Iowa. His plans changed abruptly when he saw Jose Lims modern-dance troupe perform in Iowa. The experience, as he tells it, was an epiphany. …

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