Lar Lubovitch: Concerto Six-Twenty-two

The Duet from Concerto Six Twenty-Two is a beautiful work created by Lar Lubovitch showcasing two male dancers. This piece is different than others choreographed by Lubovitch, showing off masculinity and partnering between two male dancers. Lubovitch uses very technical aspects within his dance and the audience can tell that his dancers are trained within ballet and modern dance. This piece used music, costuming, and other production aspects to present the emotional love story between two males. The different aspects of production as well as the current events occurring during the time piece premiered in 1986, contributed to telling the story of a relationship between two male dancers.

The piece, Concerto Six Twenty-Two is a beautiful balletic movement that has a total of 12 dancers on stage at once. The music contributes to the movement of the dancers and helps the audience understand the piece and continue to be entertained throughout. The music is a composition by W.A. Mozart, “Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra K. #622”. This piece of music is all instrumental and has wonderful highs and lows within it. There are moments when just one instrument is playing and the piece is slow, isolated, and graceful, while other moments when the entire orchestra is playing the piece is full of waltzes, lifts, and great traveling. The music helps the dancer’s intention within their movement, as the music builds their movement builds and vice-versa, they truly go hand in hand. The costuming is very simple and just consists of white dresses for the females and white shirts and light colored khakis for the males. The dresses flow through all of the movement and add to the grace and beauty of the females’ dance, while the male’s costumes are simple and show their strength and power within the dance. The original lighting design was by Craig Miller which was then recreated by Jack Mehler. The lighting was simple and the stage had minimalist back lighting the whole time. The lighting did not add much to the dancing just made the whole piece visible for the audience.[1]

This piece begins with twelve dancers on stage, six males and six females, they are waltzing in a circle with bouncy, light movement and uplifting music. They travel around the circle, in and out of the circle, and continue in this manner. Two male dancers enter the circle and perform a small duet together which foreshadows the longer duet they perform later on. Two female dancers and one male dancer enter the circle and perform a small dance together also foreshadowing later on movement. Three dancers exit the stage so there are eight dancers left consisting of four males and four females. The dancers continue to waltz creating two circles one of males and one of females. There is a moment where two females dance together performing synchronized movement but having no physical connection with one another. Then two males perform a duet with synchronized movement and no physical connection just the occasional moments of eye contact. The eight dancers then continue to perform all together and create your stereotypical duets between male and female dancers, showing a heteronormative relationship. There continues to be several different duets between males and females waltzing in and out until all eight dancers return to perform one last waltz and then exit the stage.[2]

The lights come up to reveal two male dancers standing on opposite sides of the stage gazing longingly at one another. The duet begins with the dancers walking towards one another slowly reaching out their arms until they meet at center stage to connect hands and wrap their arms around one another. They continue walking forward, synchronized with their arms wrapped around one another, both walking with intention, in a strong balletic manner with turned out legs and pointed feet. As they move slower towards the front of stage they begin to connect their arms moving at the same time creating a sense of unity. Their arms end up creating a rough outline of a heart and this pose is held for a few moments for the audience to take in the picture and shape made with their bodies.

Picture1

David Gere on this image, “Two people together creating whole-lovers ‘completing’ one another- is an image generally reserved for male-female pairings.” [3] They immediately swoop their arms to move into a graceful lift showing their trust with one another as well as great body strength. The piece continues with more technical moments and swift lifts.

lift

The beauty within Lubovitchs’ partnering is that he creates lifts that use large amounts of strength and technique that look as though they take minimal effort. Each male has a solo moment where they show off for their partner by performing jumps, turns, and different highs and lows of continuous movement. The male who is not dancing is watching the other one with great focus, loving eyes, and admiring each move. They constantly help one another up off the ground and lift them with grace and care.

Lar Lubovitch uses the whole body to create dance movement whether it is initiating from the arms or the legs, he has the entire body involved. He is able to take his dancers from the ground to standing without an ounce of struggle. After the second male finishes his solo section he picks up an invisible object from the ground and focuses his gaze on it which the audience can interpret in many different ways. He continues to hold and caress this object until he gently tosses it into the air. When it lands the two dancers catch it together as though it is heavier than expected. This can be interpreted as the AIDS disease being held in their hands and how the disease is too large a burden to carry alone.

holding aids

At the time this piece first appeared in 1986, the AIDS crisis was occurring so when Lubovitch referenced the disease on stage, it was a bold statement. The piece ends with more lifts and turns traveling throughout the entire space. The final moments are the same as the beginning where the dancers slowly connect their arms to create the loose outline of a heart. The dancers face the audience one last time within this pose, then turn around to exit holding each other’s shoulders.

Ellen Pall speaking of Lubovitchs’ choreography says, “much of his work is lushly romantic, passionate, tender, full of dazzling, ribbon like curves, eye-confounding lifts and spins, swirling ensembles that part, regather and part again.” [4] This piece is full of surprises and different ups and downs. The dancers are waltzing throughout the stage, and are constantly changing between dancing together and apart. The partnering shows great strength and trust with one another, the dancers simply connect and one person is in the air, gracefully lowered and they lift the next person. This partnering is different than works seen before because audiences are used to seeing males and females partner with one another but never two males. This piece was new for audiences to witness because at the time, it was taboo for males to be together within a romantic relationship. Heteronormative relationships were still expected on stage as well as in life in general. To witness two males dancing about a love story and connecting with one another emotionally on stage was unheard of.

Critical Dance News reviewed the piece and spoke of Lar Lubovitchs’ Concerto from Six-Twenty two saying, “Often performed as a stand-alone piece, its intimate, incredibly moving dance about deep feelings.” [5] The piece goes through several emotions starting with a longing and loving stare across the stage from one another. The dancers then progress to a pleasant smile as they dance together and lift each other off the ground and into the air. They are joyous dancing together and show that having a romantic relationship between two males is just as loving and wonderful as a heteronormative relationship. The moment where the two dancers carry the invisible object is a moment of distress, this object interpreted as the disease of AIDS is a burden and too heavy to carry alone. Ellen says, “The tender pas de deux for two men in his 1986 ‘Concerto Six Twenty-two’ became a kind of visual anthem of the movement to combat AIDS and is performed regularly at benefits.”[6] At the time, AIDS was a major epidemic, people were getting infected left and right leading to several deaths caused by the disease. This disease which is caused mostly by unprotected homosexual intercourse between two males was a very hard subject to discuss at the time. Lar Lubovitch presenting the disease in a different manner helped people to cope with the hard times and distress related to the disease. “In a time when beauty is deeply suspect in all arts, Lubovitchs’ work is frankly, shamelessly beautiful.”[7] He brought a lighter side to a homosexual relationship and left the invisible object as AIDS open for the audience to interpret on their own.

Lar Lubovitch considers himself to not be an intellectual and actually did not begin to enjoy and study dance until later in life. According to an interview at Jacobs Pillow, he started his career as a painter, and did not see his first dance performance until much later on. Lubovitch says, “happened to be the Jose Limón Company was the first time I ever saw dance, so I was completely stricken, and I knew that was what I was meant to do.”[8] Lar Lubovitch turned out to be a very talented choreographer and created works on companies such as the American Ballet Theatre and later formed his own company, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. His work is truly a composition, the way the dance flows across the stage and accompanies the music shows his background within art.

When Concerto Six Twenty-two premiered in 1986, the AIDS disease crisis was occurring. This piece shared the beauty behind a homosexual relationship as well as the burden the disease of AIDS had on their relationship and peoples’ lives in general. Homosexuality at the time was extremely frowned upon, viewed as immoral, and seen as taboo. Lubovitch presented this work, which helped people to view homosexuality and the AIDS disease in a different context. The work showed a male relationship on stage something that was not commonly seen in a performative context. The audience was able to witness the beauty of two males partnering, with their equal strength and power, they created a different dynamic within a duet not seen in a male-female pairing.

This piece is still important to view today both in the context of dance and sexuality. Lar Lubovitch creates wonderful works within the modern dance and ballet community. Anna Kisselgoff says, “It says something about the state of ballet choreography when the so-called contemporary program of the season comes from choreographers initially identified with modern dance rather than ballet.” [9] Lar Lubovitch is an example of how dance is always developing showing that ballet schools incorporate different techniques and styles of dance besides ballet including modern and contemporary. The dance world is constantly developing and changing so witnessing and studying works such as Concerto Six-Twenty-two helps future dancers understand the importance and impact dance can have on the world. This work displays homosexuality and male partnering on stage and creates a lighter and happier tone for the disease of AIDS.

Concerto Six-Twenty- two as a whole creates a new view of the AIDS disease, homosexuality, and shares the beauty behind Lar Lubovitchs’ creative mind. Lubovitch composes a wonderful work, beginning with twelve dancers, to then highlight an impactful male duet. Lubovitch uses modern and ballet technique within his works which gives his piece a balance between grace and strength. Lubovitch uses connective movement both physically and emotionally to show the love story between the two males. He also uses the music to amplify the movement within the piece following all of the different tempos and mood changes within. Lar Lubovitch created a work that will continue to be talked about because of its impactful manner. The piece Concerto Six-Twenty-two will continue being studied within the dance context.

[1] “Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Northern Ballet. Accessed December 11, 2018.

https://northernballet.com/lar-lubovitch-concerto-six-twenty-two.

[2] “Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Vimeo. December 10, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2018.

https://vimeo.com/305069754/8e9af67ab0.

[3] Gere, David. How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS.

Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

[4] Pall, Ellen. “Modern Romantic.” The New York Times. May 11, 1997. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/11/magazine/modern-romantic.html.

[5] “Northern Ballet: Concerto Six Twenty-Two, Concertante, Luminous Junc•ture.” CriticalDance. May 18, 2014. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://criticaldance.org/northern-ballet-concerto-six-twenty-two-concertante-luminous-junc•ture/.

[6] Pall, Ellen. “Modern Romantic.”

[7] Pall, Ellen. “Modern Romantic.”

[8] Lubovitch. “Lar Lubovitch at Jacobs Pillow.” YouTube. August 17, 2011. Accessed December

11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2xUrMzNDBw.

[9]  Kisselgoff, Anna. “Review/Dance; The Wider Dimension of Lubovitch’s Male Duet.” The New

York Times. May 13, 1993. Accessed December 11, 2018.

https://www.nytimes.com/1993/05/13/arts/review-dance-the-wider-dimension-of-lubovitch-s-male-duet.html.

Works Cited

“Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Northern Ballet. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://northernballet.com/lar-lubovitch-concerto-six-twenty-two.

“Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Vimeo. December 10, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://vimeo.com/305069754/8e9af67ab0.

Gere, David. How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Kisselgoff, Anna. “Review/Dance; The Wider Dimension of Lubovitch’s Male Duet.” The New York Times. May 13, 1993. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/05/13/arts/review-dance-the-wider-dimension-of-lubovitch-s-male-duet.html. Lubovitch.

“Lar Lubovitch at Jacobs Pillow.” YouTube. August 17, 2011. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2xUrMzNDBw. “Northern Ballet: Concerto Six Twenty-Two, Concertante, Luminous Junc•ture.”

CriticalDance. May 18, 2014. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://criticaldance.org/northern-ballet-concerto-six-twenty-two-concertante-luminous-junc•ture/.

Bibliography

“Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Northern Ballet. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://northernballet.com/lar-lubovitch-concerto-six-twenty-two.

“Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” Vimeo. December 10, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://vimeo.com/305069754/8e9af67ab0.

Gere, David. How to Make Dances in an Epidemic: Tracking Choreography in the Age of AIDS. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Kisselgoff, Anna. “Review/Dance; The Wider Dimension of Lubovitch’s Male Duet.” The New York Times. May 13, 1993. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/05/13/arts/review-dance-the-wider-dimension-of-lubovitch-s-male-duet.html. Lubovitch.

“Duet from Concerto Six Twenty-Two.” YouTube. July 27, 2012. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgKvzhJWXhE. Lubovitch.

“Lar Lubovitch at Jacobs Pillow.” YouTube. August 17, 2011. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2xUrMzNDBw. “Northern Ballet: Concerto Six Twenty-Two, Concertante, Luminous Junc•ture.”

CriticalDance. May 18, 2014. Accessed December 05, 2018. https://criticaldance.org/northern-ballet-concerto-six-twenty-two-concertante-luminous-junc•ture/.

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