Tuesday November 30, 2010 - At Peridance this week, Attila Joey Csiki is presenting a series of master classes in Lar Lubovitch repertoire. Attila invited me to come and watch one of the sessions. Unfortunately both Kokyat and Brian were working their regular jobs so I didn't have a photographer with me. However, Attila has sent me some photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia from his recent solo appearance at the Trevor Project Gala at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on November 22nd so the photos in this article are from that evening.
The high-ceilinged studio was filled with about two dozen students who came for this second of five classes. Attila told me that about half the dancers present had come the day before and the other half were new faces. There were two guys, both very fine dancers, and several really impressive girls including Emily SoRelle Adams, a dancer I've known from her appearances with New Chamber Ballet.
Many of the students had just taken a ballet class in a studio down the hall; Attila told the dancers he was not going to give them a warm-up per se but that the first piece they would be working on - an excerpt from Lar Lubovitch's 1976 work MARIMBA - would provide a warm-up in itself. He then began to demonstrate the phrase, without music. The series of counts seemed very complex to me but the dancers jumped right in, picking up the moves and port de bras from Attila; his innate musicality turned the demonstration into something of a performance. While I was sitting there trying to remember the initial arm gesture, the dancers had the entire phrase nearly nailed down. They ran thru it a few times and then Attila played the music, telling the dancers to allow the trance-like repetitions to flow thru their bodies. They moved like waves of tall grass in the breeze.
From there he added the second phrase of the excerpt and then the third. In the meantime I had completely forgotten the first phrase. But the dancers didn't; soon they were all moving in sync thru the extended passage. Attila split them into two groups and they continued running the piece until it was in their muscle-memory. And...they were now thoroughly warmed-up.
Attila then turned to a very different Lubovitch work, a luminous excerpt from Lubovitch's 2007 DVORAK SERENADE. Again in demonstrating the phrases Attila's fluid style was so clear. Turning on the rhapsodic music, he had the whole group work the phrase and then broke them into four smaller groups. "This is classic Lubovitch!" he called out as he let the energy of the music flow thru his limbs: "One step bleeds into the next, the movement never stops."
"Easy...easy!" he cautioned one set of dancers who were poised to start moving across the floor in too aggressive a manner. "It's lyrical!"
Outside the windows, another crowd of dancers were waiting for the studio. The class had literally zoomed by and the students came forward to curtsey and bow to Attila. One of the fringe benefits of watching a master class is getting to see world-class dancers in action up close. Thus in recent weeks I've seen Wendy Whelan, Matthew Rushing, Attila today and with Alex Wong coming up in January.
Attila's classes continue thru Friday at Peridance, with an 11:30 AM start time. You can take an individual class for $20.
A final photo from the Trevor Project Gala: Attila with pianist Kathy Tagg. Read about the visit Brian Krontz and I made to Attila's rehearsal for the gala here.
Photos: Kevin Thomas Garcia