Jokes and parodies typified the newest material introduced in a program of otherwise familiar repertory danced strongly by the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company on Friday at Orange Coast College.
“Beau Danube,” the latest revival of Lubovitch’s 27th anniversary season, hit the local shores in a four-part program that also featured “So in Love,” to which Lubovitch has added a new section since the work received its world premiere 13 months ago in Los Angeles. The evening was filled out by works reviewed last year in Irvine, “Fandango” and “Marimba.”
Created in 1981, “Beau Danube” is a jokey ballet, but the object of its parody is unclear. Is it the famous Strauss waltz the four dancers dance to? The personality exaggerations that technically inferior dancers must resort to? The seeming pretensions of ballet and its vocabulary? All of the above?
In colored tank tops and tights, the dancers (Scott Rink, Jeffrey Hankinson, Susan Shields and Daniel Wright) looked as if they might be acrobats or music hall artistes. They lined up, collapsed, formed partnerships and group clusters, posed and preened.
They flexed in self-consciously poesy pictures of blossoming flowers and such. One guy periodically walked briskly on his knees around two other dancers. He always drew laughs.
The casting of three men and one woman built imbalance into the dual partnerships, which Lubovitch didn’t hesitate to exploit. When two guys danced together, they mugged and primped and otherwise signaled mock embarrassment.
Still, the parody seemed scattershot and pointless.
“From This Moment On” is the new leavening pas de deux that Lubovitch has placed dead center in the now grungy/now lyric “So in Love,” set to five Cole Porter songs sung by contemporary artists.
Silvia Nevjinsky and Dirk Platzek, both sporting kneepads, were the superbly warring athlete lovers. She clung desperately to his knee as he strode on stage trying to escape her. The audience hooted.
Soon the two evoked images of football, boxing, wrestling and other sports as the power balance in the relationship ebbed and flowed between the two, eventually ending in a draw.
It all looked like a comic redo of “Fandango” (set to Ravel’s “Bolero”), the knockout erotic-athletic pas de deux danced strongly on this occasion by Platzek and Wallie Wolfgruber.
Filling out the cast of “So in Love” were Kelly Slough (“It’s All Right With Me”), Shields and Rink (“In the Still of the Night”), Anita Intrieri and Hankinson (“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”) and Wolfgruber (“So in Love”).
The 10-member company opened the program with “Marimba,” Lubovitch’s sympathetic response to 18 minutes of Steve Reich’s “Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ.”