By Walter Rutledge
Actress, author and burlesque entertainer Gyspy Rose Lee once said, “If a thing is worth doing, it worth doing slowly… very slowly”. Fandango by choreographer Lar Lubovitch embodies Lee’s philosophy and more. Instead of flashy flurries of movement, the sensual duet performed by Danica Paulos and Clifton Brown; and set to Maurice Ravel’s contemporary classic chestnut Bolero, smoldered with a steady and intense heat.
No stranger to Lubovitch’s work Brown and Lubovitch Dance Company member Nicole Corea were the original cast members of Vez, the reimagining of Fandango, performed during the 2013 Lubovitch Dance Company 45th Anniversary at the Joyce Theater. Brown and Corea were also the rehearsal associates for choreographer Lubovitch during this present restaging for the Ailey company. Brown reprises his role now restaged back to the original Bolero score; and he and Paulos were pure magic (the only thing missing was a cigarette for the afterglow).
From the beginning Lubovitch establishes a musical and visual command of the stage. The choreography seems to envelop the dancers in a directed movement conversation. His deliberate and effective use of theme and development echoes the musical composition without being dictated to or confined by Ravel’s masterwork. The unencumbered use of the floor, exciting and spontaneous lifts and arms that interlaced into a social dance cotillion all gave this work (choreographed in 1990 and Ailey debut 1995) an airy freshness.
When an artist decides to use music of popular renown such as Igor Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue or Carmina Burana by Carl Off; they are not only making an artistic statement, but a declaration about their personal prowess and choreographic ingenuity. Lubovitch chose Ravel’s best- known and most recognizable work- Bolero. Originally commissioned by actress and Ballet Russe ballerina Ida Rubinstein; the ballet premiered at the Paris Opera on November 22, 1928, with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska and designs and scenario by Alexandre Benois. The music’s most notable quality is an unchanging ostinato rhythm played on one or more snare drums that remains constant throughout the work.
Lubovitch’s uncluttered and economic approach to his abstract “affaire du Coeur” is a masterful expression of the power of simplicity. The “ultimate elegance” according to Leonardo da Vinci. The result is the polished unfolding of a continuous ribbon of movement, that slowly builds to a powerful crescendo… a climax. It was also truly satisfying to watch choreography that didn’t exhaust the audience by dancing on every note of the music.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater New York City Center season runs thru Sunday January 5, 2020. You have four more opportunities to experience to sensual/sensorial magic of Lar Lubovich’s Fandango. The work will be performed on Saturday December 28, 8pm, Wednesday and Thursday January 1st and 2nd at 7:30pm and Saturday January 4, at 8pm. For more information and to view the entire remaining season schedule visit ailey.org.
1) Danica Paulos and Clifton Brown 2) Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell and Richard Witter (1995) 3) Danica Paulos and Clifton Brown
1 & 3) Paul Kolnik, 2) Roy Volkmann