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Celebrated Choreographer Lar Lubovitch Becomes a Professor at UCI

Photo by Rose Eichenbaum

In one of the expansive, sunlit dance studios at the University of California, Irvine, Lar Lubovitch throws out some nuggets of wisdom about the movement quality he seeks. "If you're not breathing, the dynamics are flat," he says. "You can't capture my interest if it's a flat line." He particularly insists on the play of tension and release his choreography demands, how the energy emanates from the coiling of the spine: "You're just getting into poses, instead of a spiral so extreme it has to unspiral."

In July 2016, the university bestowed the title of Distinguished Professor on Lubovitch. At 74, the celebrated choreographer still possesses the deftness to demonstrate some of his steps, although he relies on former Lubovitch company dancer Katarzyna Skarpetowska, now a répétiteur, to fully flesh out the dance phrases for the 25 students in class. They're learning a solo called "Pardon my Affection," from Thus is All, a ballet he created for the Royal Danish Ballet in 1998.

Previously, Lubovitch's experience at the higher education level had been setting works on The Julliard School Dance Division and other university dance departments. But what compels him to teach at this stage of his career? Check out this slideshow of images of Lubovitch in the classroom to learn why he's going back to school.


Approaching Act III

The Study of Lubovitch

Distance Learning

Information vs. Critique

What Can and Can't Be Achieved

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

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"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

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"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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