The elegant, lyrical “Lar Lubovitch Dance Company” mesmerizing at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
BECKET, Mass.-Immerse yourself in a total experience of dance, food, and history, in a bucolic setting at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.
Each week different guest artists perform and this week the magical, lyrical Lar Lubovitch Dance Company graces the stage at the Ted Shawn Theatre through Sunday.
For those who saw the Robert Altman film “The Company” Lubovitch choreographed the charming, graceful dance to “My Funny Valentine.” His style is smooth, graceful, and endlessly pleasing.
The 10 gifted dancers performed some old and newer works for an energetic two hours. The first was an ensemble performance called “North Star,” originally choreographed by Lubovitch in 1978. It feels just as fresh and timeless today, with the whole company, plus solo performances by Jenna Fakoury and Reid Bartelme, and quartets interwoven throughout.
Fakoury performs an amazing, robotic, herky-jerky like solo under a bright spot light that is as shocking as it is riveting to watch, and even gets her massive curling hair into the action, with kinesthetic body contortions at an almost inhuman rapid speed.
The prerecorded music of “North Star” is composed by the fabulous Philip Glass, and has a dream-like, ethereal quality that is transformative and mesmerizing.
The dancers are all wearing similar navy tunics and navy tights that make them look identical at first, until time subtly unveils their unique characteristics and personalities. Costumes by Clovis Ruffin.
After a brief pause Katarzyna Skarpetowska in white and Brian McGinnis in blue perform a elegiac, graceful, and romantic “Duet From Meadow” from 1999 by Lubovich, set to music composed by Gavin Bryars called “Incipit Vita Nova” with costumes by Ann Howard.
After the brief intermission the dancers return all in black for Lubovitch’s 2010 “The Legend of Ten,” set to Johannes Brahms’ “Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Opus 34” movements I and IV.
After the second intermission is “Coltrane’s Favorite Things” with music by the John Coltrane’s Quartet Live Rendition with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
It is a tribute to Lubovitch’s seamless, distinctive choreography that despite the various composers, his own sensual, flowing, and elegant style remains consistent throughout.
Come early to the event and visit the free display in the airy Blake Barn of photographs by Annie Leibowitz whose mother was a dancer and who photographed dancers Mark Morris and the inimitable Mikhail Baryshnikov and others at Jacob’s Pillow. Other dancers and icons in the exhibition include photographs of Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, Gregory Hines, Rudolf Nureyev, and even Arnold Scwarzenegger back in his weight-lifting, pre-scandal days.
Some came well before the opening performance Wednesday to enjoy their own homemade picnics, while others grabbed a burger and beverage at the Jacob’s Pillow Pub.
If you really want to make it a special evening, however, make reservations for the al fresco Jacob’s Pillow Café that offers a brief menu which changes periodically and includes chilled gazpacho soup with lump crab, Boston bibb salad with green goddess dressing, and entrees including lamb with risotto and vegetables, and chicken, vegetable, and chilled salmon dishes.
In addition to ice cream, the dessert selection offers a cheesecake, rich red velvet cake, and a white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
The performances for the Lar Lubovich Dance Company are almost sold out through Sunday, with limited seating available, but fortunately there are other troupes through the end of August that are coming to Jacob’s Pillow, either at the Ted Shawn Theatre or the Doris Duke Theatre. They include the LDP/Laboratory Dance Project, from South Korea; Big Dance Theater; 3e Etage: Solists and Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet; Jonah Bkaer, a former member of the Merce Cunnigham Dance Company; the Mark Morris Dance Group; and others.
In March, President Barack Obama honored the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with a National Medal of Arts, the highest arts award given by the United States Government. Named a National Historic Landmark in 2003, Jacob’s Pillow is the first dance performing organization that has received this honor, and it is well deserved.
Expand your horizons and discover what makes Jacob’s Pillow such a life-affirming, remarkable place.
Theater: Ted Shawn Theatre
Location: 358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.
Production: Artistic director and choreographer Lar Lubovitch. Executive director Ricard J. Caples. Lighting director Jack Mehler. Production stage manager Maxine Glorsky. Company manager Leticia D. Baratta. Costumer Naomi Luppescu.
Running time: About 2 hours with two 10-minute intermissions.
Show Times: Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. through July 24.
Tickets: $59.50 to $64.50. For more information call their box office at 413-243-0745, or visit their website at jacobspillow.org.
Jonathan E. Alsberry
Attila Joey Csici
Photos: Todd Rosenberg