Presumably, the campus police officers were just there for the coffee. It still seemed odd to see three men in uniform patrolling during intermission Friday at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. Didn’t they know Lar Lubovitch is the last choreographer who could possibly inspire a “Rite of Spring”-style riot?
Lubovitch has long been known as a mild-mannered maker of mostly mild modern dances. It was only in the opening sequence, called “Three Duets,” that we saw a hint of the choreographer’s ability to convey tension. Lubovitch may be 70, but he should do a bit more rabble-rousing.
A male duet from Lubovitch’s “Concerto Six Twenty-Two” opened the show with an innocent display of affection between two young men who appear to slink away from their respective family compounds in Hyannis Port, Mass. Wearing white polo shirts and khakis, they formed shapes with their limbs as if surprised by what can happen when two strong arms intertwine. Tobin Del Cuore was several inches taller than Attila Joey Csiki, but they lifted each other with ease and transitioned often. One second Csiki was jumping, the next he was on Del Cuore’s shoulder.
The course of love did not run as smoothly for Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Reed Luplau, violently tussling lovers wearing silky bedclothes. It was only in the piece’s final seconds, when the pair lay still together and she stroked his head, that you realized the whole dance may have been consensual. Intriguing partnering has always been a strength for Lubovitch, and in “Vez,” he set up a battle of wills (and abs) between Nicole Corea and Clifton Brown. The curtain opened with Corea nearly upside down in an extreme variation on a fish dive. As she torqued her body throughout the piece, it became evident that Corea must do 200-some crunches each day. You could also tell by the way she curled her torso, and thanks to the strange velour bra and hot pants she was wearing.
Questionable costume choices were a running theme. The program also included Lubovitch’s 2011 work “Crisis Variations,” which had the dancers clad in an odd amalgam of earth-tone knitwear, with the lone African American performer wearing a hoodie. The company performed that piece, and his 2012 work “Transparent Things,” at the Kennedy Center last year, and both seem to have lost energy. One major change was to substitute a live performance of Debussy’s String Quartet with a recording of the piece and position four models of instruments at stage left. If the goal was to add a sense of ghostly artifice, Lubovitch succeeded. But on this program, the better dances reflected real life, rather than enigmatic mysteries.
Ritzel is a freelance writer.