Lubovitch illuminates human nature through dance

Dancers Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Brian McGinnis performing in "Crisis Variations." Photo by Paula Lobo.

Dancers Katarzyna Skarpetowska and Brian McGinnis performing in “Crisis Variations.” Photo by Paula Lobo.

Lar Lubovitch choreographs based on human quality. It is his aim, as he said in a post-show interview at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, to evoke a sensation, not a story, out of his viewers.

But the audience, as humans, may construct stories to make sense of what they witness on stage – and what they saw was breathtaking.

A playful choreography opened the Oct. 4 show, featuring characters who attempted to find their path in life, only to be discouraged as the dance progressed. The following duets focused on relationships between a man and woman: one that is mutually strong, like a bull fighting a bull, while the other a game of cat and mouse in a curtains-lifted display of emotional and physical abuse. The concluding piece provided an amusing take on the word “crisis.”

The company opened the night with “Transparent Things,” set to Claude Debussy’s “String Quartet in G Minor, Opus 10.” According to the program, Lubovitch drew inspiration from Pablo Picasso’s “Family of Saltimbanques,” a painting that shows characters looking off into the distance, pensive, and living a “fragile existence.” Lubovitch compared these subjects to his dancers, who also choose to embrace unsure lives in the name of art.

In one segment of this dance, the tempo slowed and with it the dancers’ movement. Attila Joey Csiki, who opened the dance, sunk to the floor and went still, as if life had gone from him. The lights transitioned to emit a blue, ethereal background. Csiki’s friends witnessed him downtrodden and like a domino effect, his friends adopted the same sullen disposition.

They became more rooted to the ground as opposed to their springy, carefree leaps at the beginning of the dance. A quiet ambience settled among the dancers, and there, with the ending, a universal downside was exposed: dance as “an art that only exists when it is actually happening,” as the program said.

As impressive as the first dance was, the duets and concluding dances were far more compelling.

In “Vez,” a reimagined version of Lubovitch’s “Fandango” choreography from 1989 that is set to Randall Woolf’s “Vez,” there were moments when partners Nicole Corea and Clifton Brown would not touch, but the sensual and sexual chemistry between them could not be more evident. This is the power of dance: its ability to connect participants through how the body moves and not just through bodily contact.

But when Corea and Brown did touch, they often intertwined their bodies around each other, becoming one. “Vez” proved to be a sparring and combative conversation between two dancers – both sides determined to win.

“The Time Before The Time After,” choreographed in 1971, made its return as the second-to-last performance of the night. Seconds into the dance, with a spotlight fixed on partners Reed Luplau and Katarzyna Skarpetowska, the audience sensed tension just about to boil over. Luplau stood posed, a hand about to strike Skarpetowska. Then, Igor Stravinsky’s “Concertino for String Quartet” picked up and a dance was set in motion.

Skarpetowska initially maintained a strong presence, bounding away from her partner, only to be stopped by Luplau’s vice-like grip on her wrist or his hand pulling her back by the hair. At its core, this dance narrated a life of inescapable violent intimacy.

In a particular phase of the dance, the music tempo slowed down and Skarpetowska’s fighting will went with it. The audience knew that the dancer depended on her lover, but what also became clear was that Luplau was nothing without her. His ability to exert dominance depended on his prey; with sharp twists and pivots and unyielding extensions, Luplau gained his power by depleting Skarpetowska’s.

By the end, she gave in and slid down to the floor, back onto her knees, subservient, and Luplau gathered her into a possessive embrace, devoid of comfort. The experience came across as voyeuristic, with the audience witnessing a gripping occurrence, instigated by Skarpetowska and Luplau’s magnetic movement onstage.

The most disconcerting and high-energy choreography could be found in the closing piece, “Crisis Variations.” Once again, the company brought back all of its dancers. Lubovitch revealed in a post-show Q-and-A that the music, which usually inspires his choreography, took a backseat role. He only taught his dancers the moves and rhythm he expected, and then the dancers heard the commissioned music score a day before premiering in 2011.

The purpose of this last-minute change? He wanted to maintain a sense of chaos and confusion – and he certainly succeeded.

The dancers’ movements appeared halting and seemingly accidental, their bodies lurching back and forth, like cars stuck in spasmodic traffic.

Skarpetowska took on another principal role, oftentimes allowing herself to be a ragdoll, carried and dragged across the stage by dancer Brian McGinnis. While the storyline for this piece was unclear – done surely on purpose by Lubovitch – the audience could feel the sensation of chaos.

With Friday night’s performances, Lubovitch proves that he still has a vision, even into his 50th year of choreography, and that his dance company, now in its 45th year, remains determined to help him construct it. It is also not necessarily a bad thing that dance is a fleeting art, with an impact that can only be experienced live. It means that each choreographed performance can exalt itself as new and powerful. For now, Lubovitch and his dancers manage to extend the life of dance until the company’s next performance.

The company will continue to celebrate its 45th anniversary with performances at The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. and 19th Street, from Oct. 8 to 13 and Oct. 15 to 20.

Rowling’s new book is less than enchanting

In February 2012, fans of the fantasy book and movie series “Harry Potter” received news that J.K. Rowling would publish another book. Their enthusiasm was slightly dampened by confusion when Rowling said she had switched over to writing for adults.

“The Casual Vacancy,” released on Sept. 27, is about an idyllic town that significantly changes after the death of well-known councilor Barry Fairbrother. Barry’s death results in a ‘casual vacancy,’ an empty spot on the Pagford council.

Eventually the townspeople must decide on who should replace the deceased. Most importantly, the inheritor of Barry’s seat would determine the fate of the Fields, a housing project that is a blemish on the perfect façade of sleepy Pagford.

The fight for the seat leads to what Little, Brown and Company had described as “the biggest war the town has yet seen.” However, what the novel’s summary boasts is not fulfilled because the plot falls flat.

Each chapter consists of different characters’ coping with Barry’s death and the imminent voting that would change the town. Naturally, one would think more characters would add plenty of colors to the plot. The saying is: “The more, the merrier.” Yet, this gets repetitive and monotonous.

Crammed into the first 350 pages are descriptions of the town of Pagford and day-to-day thoughts of too many characters to count. The rest of the 500-paged novel details the characters’ emotional unraveling. Loyalties are reconsidered. Families break apart. Posts revealing secrets about the running candidates slowly appear on the Pagford council’s website and further enrage locals when the user’s name is The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother.

Harry Potter fans might resort, out of sheer boredom, to comparing this novel to the beloved series, but the only comparable aspect is a Vernon Dursley doppelganger named Howard Mollison, who is a pot-bellied, lecherous councilman with an abhorrence for the Fields. His wife Shirley, a gossiper, most definitely fits the mold of Vernon’s horse-faced wife, Petunia Dursley. Otherwise, Rowling does succeed in separating herself from her bestselling series.

Though the plot falls flat and characters crowd the novel’s pages, Rowling deserves praise for her story-telling; she has the sought-after ability to conjure (see what happened there?) a different world. Sadly, this fictional world is just not as interesting as the wizarding world.

When Rowling said this was an adult novel, she was definitely correct. Within the first hundred pages of “The Casual Vacancy,” the story branches into topics of sex, drugs and affairs. One sexually frustrated wife fantasizes about the men in town. The son of the local school’s headmaster fornicates with the daughter of a drug-addicted woman from the Fields. Every curse word in the dialogue causes a jolt, a sheer indication that Rowling has, in fact, moved on.

Recently, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England, Rowling said she would return to writing a children’s book. Perhaps this might be a better choice for Rowling.

Fall Concert a Bust

8:10 p.m.

Girls in blue, pink and leopard print heels strut back and forth across the floor. A guy with crutches hobbles over to his group of friends. On the left side of the stage, a group of six or seven security guards clutter together. On stage, someone played music from his Mac laptop, but few paid attention to him.

Kev Nish plays the guitar during the University's fall concert performance. Photo by Mitch Bell

That someone was a DJ from The Hood Internet, one of the featured artists of the fall concert, but no one seemed to know this until the end of his performance.

Keep reading

Chilling with Far East Movement

Photo by Mitch Bell

The guys of Far East Movement are the type to sit around in a circle and answer interview questions about their success while eating pizza.

The Mirror had the chance to talk with Kev Nish, Prohgress, DJ Virmin, and J-Splif – members of the L.A. hip hop group – before they were set to head on stage for last Friday’s fall concert. The Hood Internet and Hoodie Allen had already opened the show.

More of the interview inside

Björk’s “Biophilia:” Beyond this World

In his death, Steve Jobs left yet another mark on something vital in the world: Björk’s music.

Björk’s newest album “Biophilia” debuted on Oct. 10 and was partially recorded on an iPad. It also pairs 10 songs with applications on the iPad and iPod touch.

This is not surprising news for fans of the Icelandic singer-songwriter who is perhaps most famous for her experimental use of musical instruments and unique ethereal voice. For this album, Björk worked with developers to record the album’s tracks using new creations of instruments.

Anyone who listens to Björk needs to know that listening to her music is like being transported into another world. And she does it again with her new album “Biophilia.”

Let’s start with the bad. Her strength lies in the music, but not necessarily the lyrics. She sings in a way that every word is elongated and when she finishes singing each one, you kind of forget what verse she was trying to form.

Yet  her tracks are wonderful products of her imagination, which also launched Björk’s career in the first place.

“Crystalline,” the third track of the album, opens with a strange xylophone sort of instrument and listeners can’t help but feel childhood nostalgia. But then her voice comes in and bass and electronic undertones are added, and again, listeners are transported to another world. Björk explores her art and her fans are always welcomed to go on her journey.

Her 11th track, “Hollow,” which is available in extended length, is very much rhythm-based. In the first minute of the track, Björk’s voice is completely absent, with what seems like a low-range string instrument as the main focus. This sets the tone of the piece, the mysteriousness that she wants to create. When she comes in with her delicate vibrato, she is joined by a disembodied chorus.

When you listen to any of Björk’s work, close your eyes. This is when her music is most effective and most extraordinary. Be enthralled by her varying range of voice that can be, at one moment, full with sound, and in another, delicate and vulnerable.

Her newest album “Biophilia” is a mix of the artist’s eccentricity as a musician, experimentation at its best and musical gold.

Published on Examiner.com: October 14, 2011

Q&A with Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows

Good and bass guitarist Adam Russell of Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows rock out during concert. Photo by Loan Le/The Mirror

Matt Good, guitarist and background vocalist to the hardcore rock band Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, also known by the abbreviation D.R.U.G.S., sat down to talk to The Vine in a half-hour interview.

The band, who formed in early 2010 and just started out in the rock scene, is on the Alternative Press Spring 2011 Tour with four other bands: Conditions, VersaEmerge, I See Stars and Black Veil Brides. They recently played at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Conn.

*Interview and music videos attached use coarse language. Be advised.*

The Vine: How’s the tour going along? What states have you guys been to so far?

Matt Good: It’s awesome so far. We’ve been through Texas and the Southwest, up west coast and through the Midwest. Now we’re doing the east.

How was the band formed?

The singer Craig is from Detroit, and he had formed the band. We are all from different places across America.

It was a long process. It took [Craig] probably near a year to form the band. It was definitely something he wanted to let happen and have it feel right. So he found our drummer through management, I believe. Aaron (drummer) was suggested to Craig. Nick, the guitar player, was a friend of Craig’s.

I had known Craig and toured with him. I’ve known him since 2003. I went on Twitter, and I was like, “Hey do you guys need a guitar player?” and he was like, “Yeah.”

With Adam, we went to studio and met him that way.

So, you’re relatively new, formed in 2010. What is your reaction so far to reception that the band has received in that short period of time?

I’m very blown away by it; also very humble. It’s cool to see that we can go ahead and form a new project and be received so well. Honestly, the record hasn’t even been out two months, and it’s sold pretty well. People are extremely excited and singing along at the shows.

This whole thing…it’s one of those things where you’re just like, “I knew this would work, but I didn’t know it’d be this great.”

Want to read more of Matt’s interview? Click here.

Regis Is Done This Summer…Is Steve Bottari Next?

Steve Bottari interviews The Alternate Routes, a band from Bridgeport. Photo by Jean Santopatre/Fairfield University.

Some people dream about being in the spotlight and hosting their own shows, but sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish that dream. One of Fairfield’s own has achieved his dream—multiple times, in fact—and is now a finalist in a competition that could potentially allow him to host television in Connecticut for a year.

Steve Bottari, a senior majoring in Politics and Communication, is one of nine finalists in the MyTV9 Star competition run by MyTV9, an affiliate of MyNetworkTV which is a television service based in Connecticut.

The winner will get to represent MyTV9 for one year as a spokesperson at events, contests, and promotions.

THE BEGINNING

Bottari didn’t always want to be on television. He initially hoped to become an attorney involved in politics. “Then, a funny thing happened on the way to law school,” Bottari said. He soon discovered the Media Center which housed the HAM Channel’s studio, and he knew he was in the right place the second week of his freshman year.

Bottari stated he owes Fairfield for its faculty and staff who “are really focused on helping [students] turn goals into reality.” He said, “I can assure you that I would not be in this Top 9 today were it not for the world-class communication professors and talented Media Center staff that we’re lucky enough to have.”

THE AUDITION PROCESS

Bottari came across MyTV9 by coincidence. His friend Christina Hill ’11 had seen a commercial about the competition and told him about it.

During the time of the first audition, he was on his way to Chicago. He stopped by the audition site expecting a short wait, but he ended up waiting for hours. Bottari then got in his audition and raced to Boston to catch his next flight. Luckily, the flight was delayed for two hours.

Bottari said he was grateful that he had gotten a chance to meet with the judges. The competition is a crucial step for him as a journalist.

“For me, I love hosting. If you told me that I would have to get up every day and go to work in television, I would thank you. And I hope that everybody finds that thing in their own life,” Bottari said.

The 29 finalists were narrowed down to nine. To win, they must compete in more challenges and go through other audition processes. Once the winner is picked, they will all gather at an undisclosed area to learn the results.

THE FUTURE?

Bottari hopes that journalism continues to focus on the important issues. “I know when I am talking to people about journalism, there seems to be a general consensus most people have, which is that often times we get caught up in stories and hyper focus on them when there is so much going on,” he said.  He gave the example of Prince William and his engagement to Kate Middleton.

“With two wars, trying to rebuild an economy and a whole host of other important issues that affect our day-to-day lives, should all the major media really be focusing all these resources on seeing William and Kate tie the knot?” he asked.

Bottari also stressed the entertainment side of journalists and the personality that they take on. He said, “I hope that my personality is fun and engaging, otherwise my TV career is going to be pretty short-lived.”

Dr. Margaret Wills, who is the chair of and an associate professor in the Communications Department, knew Bottari from her Capstone Research Methods class, and she said of Bottari: “It’s very clear that he doesn’t just envision himself as a ‘one day I’ll be a professional.’ He is already a professional who takes his career seriously.  He is already doing the things that most students think about doing ‘one day.’”

Hill agrees with Wills and said, “With Steve, it’s very much what you see is what you get. When you watch him on camera, Steve talks with the same ease and comfort he has as if he were talking to a friend over lunch.”

She also considers him “versatile,” “incredibly tech-savvy” and effective at “engaging people beyond his on-air segments.”

Bottari hopes to pursue a career in television. He is currently a host for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena. He also hosted at Canobie Lake Park, a New England Amusement Park.

As for TV, Bottari serves as HAM channel’s president. He has also reported for 15 shows while covering topics ranging from health care and the Georgia-Russia conflict to Zac Efron and everything in between.

Bottari was recently awarded two major national television awards for a documentary he produced. He also has experience with ABC News’s Nightline and Story Worldwide, which is the world’s leading post-advertising agency.

The soon-to-be graduate has been admitted to the Columbia School of Journalism, which he described as an honor. He has yet to decide whether he will attend.

In the end, Bottari hopes to have a career which makes him eager to start each morning, but also noted that a career could take time to find.

“College is the perfect time for finding that; finding out what it is that you truly love to do and that fulfills you in an indescribable way,” Bottari said. “Whether it be a certain profession, being a parent or fly fishing–whatever it is–just find that one thing, hold onto it for dear life and never let go.”

The winner of the MyTV9 Star competition will be announced on April 22.

Published on April 6, 2011 in The Vine

Right Bite: Las Vetas

During the winter, it’s convenient to look for a small, cozy area to relax and find warmth in. I think I may have found one on 27 Unquowa Road. Las Vetas Lounge is an intimate coffee shop with its own character and style. Just five  minutes away from Fairfield University by shuttle, it is a fantastic venue, seemingly the quintessential “hang-out” spot for college students.

Las Vetas serves an eclectic crowd, which is another reason why I like the place so much. It boasts an informal atmosphere for college kids to study in, for tired moms who just want some peace and quiet, and for town drifters who are looking for a place to think. Business people waiting for their trains always stop by in the morning and buy a cup of coffee, while asking the employees to put the cost “on their tabs.”

Las Vetas has a look like no other coffee place in Fairfield. The front counter is decorated with colorful old-fashioned posters from the sixties and seventies and is lined with jars of candy and coffee products. All of the furniture has a vintage, time-worn vibe. There are tables that seemed to be taken from a garage sale. Many of them are etched with the signatures of past young customers. No chair in Las Vetas is matched.

Las Vetas is a popular place for Fairfield residents, as well as students. Photo by Peter Caty/The Mirror

“I just like it because it’s quirky; nothing’s the same, and each piece has its own entity, but that makes it all the more charming,” said Eric Lynch ‘14, a frequent hot-chocolate drinker.

Las Vetas serves inexpensive yet delicious food, including breakfast and lunch, and a wide array of mugs that are used to hold the different beverages offered. Last time I visited, I ordered a chai tea, which I received in a mug with alien characters adorning the outside. Needless to say, I was incredibly satisfied with that.

Another appealing aspect of Las Vetas has to be their offer of entertainment, books and board games. Visit on an Open Mic Night. Find a corner and dig into your latest read. The first time I came to Las Vetas, I played Scrabble for hours with my friends.

So, if you feel trapped in the silence of the university library, and if you can’t concentrate in your dorm or dislike the noise of Jazzman’s, find refuge at Las Vetas Lounge. It’s open on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. With the quality of Starbucks and personality of a classic yet eccentric venue, Las Vetas Lounge is perfect for relaxation.

Las Vetas has Wi-Fi and is in the inexpensive price range on Yelp.com.

Published on January 26, 2011 in The Vine