Affairs of the heart and soul

The celebrated choreographer Lar Lubovitch explores love and human nature in a double bill
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The Independent Culture

The American choreographer Lar Lubovitch has just starred as himself in Robert Altman's film The Company, a drama about a ballet company. Lubovitch hadn't acted before, but was approached by the director after Altman and The Company's star, Neve Campbell, saw Lubovitch's company performing the final duet of ...smile with my heart - a dance tribute to the music of legendary Broadway composer Richard Rodgers. This forms the heart of the film.

The American choreographer Lar Lubovitch has just starred as himself in Robert Altman's film The Company, a drama about a ballet company. Lubovitch hadn't acted before, but was approached by the director after Altman and The Company's star, Neve Campbell, saw Lubovitch's company performing the final duet of ...smile with my heart - a dance tribute to the music of legendary Broadway composer Richard Rodgers. This forms the heart of the film.

"Mr Altman instructed me to be myself and to do what I do in real life," says Lubovitch, who is bringing 12 dancers to London to perform a double bill that includes the duet. "There is a certain amount of performance even in that act of walking into a dance studio and creating a dance, and since I've been performing that act for 35 years it was relatively easy for me to do it when the cameras rolled."

Lubovitch has created more than 60 dances for his company, as well as working for the New York City Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet over the years. This rare appearance in London is to celebrate his company's 35th-anniversary season. "I have a terrible memory, but we last came here to Sadler's Wells, perhaps 15 to 20 years ago," says Lubovitch who began dancing when he was a very young child "as a natural intuitive response to music".

...smile with my heart is an instrumental treatment by Marvin Laird of six songs composed by Rodgers, which incorporates the duet My Happy Valentine from an earlier tribute to Rodgers. Conceived for the American Ballet Theatre two years ago, it is a work for three couples, each of which represents a different expression of love. This is followed by Men's Stories, an energetic tour de force of masculine modern dance for nine dancers who leap, roll and twist in an attempt to "explore the emotional underpinnings of male experience". Set to composer Scott Marshall's score, a mix of electronic sounds, operatic arias, pop music, voiceovers and show tunes, all inserted into Beethoven's Third and Fifth Piano Sonatas, it is not surprising that the piece is subtitled A Concerto in Ruin.

But Lubovitch has undertaken to reveal each dancer's emotional baggage. " Men's Stories takes a deeper look at the Gestalt that lies behind the essence of a human's character while dancing," he explains. "When a dancer is on stage they are doing what the choreographer has asked them to do. But for those of us who can see dance very well, we also see that their own inner story lies behind the way they present themselves," he says. "I wanted to reveal the side of character only intimated in their dancing."

The piece is about the beauty of ruin, says Lubovitch, using the example of ancient ruins to explain: "Something that is quite ancient and destroyed and no longer in its original form takes on the far deeper beauty having stood the ravages of time. But men also exhibit the beauty of ruin. They are ruined by time and by society, but remain nonetheless full of hope and idealism. By viewing these evolved artists, we see they too possess the beauty of ruin."



Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1 (0870 380 0400; www.rfh.org.uk) Friday, 7.45pm and Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.45pm

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