Above: Attila Joey Csiki and Clifton Brown. Photo by Nir Arieli. Click on the image to enlarge.
Sunday January 27, 2013 - I've had the great good fortune in recent years to witness some truly unforgettable moments in dance that the rest of the world isn't privy to. In the Autumn of 2012 Wendy Whelan gave me a precious gift when she arranged for me to sneak into one of her rehearsals - it was such a transformative experience, though I never wrote about it on my blog for fear of getting her in trouble with the powers that be. I had the memorable opportunity of watching Adrian Danchig-Waring's first-ever rehearsal of APOLLO. And I was at a MORPHOSES rehearsal when Pontus Lidberg kept dancing after the scheduled studio time had run out. He didn't ask me to leave, he simply danced on in his own private world and I sat there in a breathless state. Yuan Yuan Tan, Katherine Crockett, Maria Kowroski, Laura Halzack, Veronika Part...I've seen them all at their most beautiful - up close and personal - freed from the theatricality of a performance and simply working on their craft, immersed in the music and the movement.
Dancers and choreographers have been so kind and generous, welcoming me into their studios and sharing the creative experience with me. In this way I have gotten as close as one can get to dance without actually dancing. At the end of a rehearsal, the dancers invariably will come up for an embrace and always they will say: "I'm all sweaty!" Your sweat is my holy water, please don't apologize.
So a week ago Attila Joey Csiki (above) contacted me and invited me to a reherasal of a Lar Lubovitch duet, set to Mozart, to be danced by Attila and Clifton Brown at an upcoming gala in Washington DC. Mozart, Lubovitch, Attila and Clifton...what could be finer? I arranged to meet photographer Nir Arieli at the MMAC studios; it turned out to be an hour of dance that I'll never forget.
Lar Lubovitch created this dancework in 1986 - when the AIDS epidemic was decimating the world - and he named it CONCERTO 622 after the Mozart work usually referred to as "the Clarinet Concerto". The pas de deux for two men is danced to the concerto's adagio, music which became familiar to an audience that stretched far beyond the world's concert halls when it was played in the epic film OUT OF AFRICA.
We arrived at the studio today for the final hour of the rehearsal; Clifton Brown has danced this work before but Attila Joey Csiki has not. Mr. Lubovitch had them ironing out the timing of certain passages, including a big lift which must be honed to perfection to make its effect. The boys ran thru the segment several times, and Clifton's keen eye and astute preparation soon had it mastered: his wonderfully deep plié as Attila came hurtling towards him was something to behold, and he swept his fellow danseur overhead in one sweepingly seamless motion.
Then Mr. Lubovitch put the music on and the dancers began the first of two full runnings of the duet. Quite honestly my reaction surprised me: chills ran up my spine, my heart started racing, I could barely keep myself from crying. This is a piece that transcends its components - music, choreography and dancing - and speaks to us of things that can only be felt, not seen. The two men are tender and noble, they console and support one another and their passion pulsates just below the surface. The duet is not sentimental or overtly romantic; it has a luminous purity that springs from the celestial melodies of the genius Mozart. The choreographer has found the heart of the music and exposes it to us in movement that seems inevitable. I'll never again be able to listen to this adagio without seeing Attila and Clifton in my dreamworld.
After a break and a bit more tweaking of certain partnering elements, the dancers began again and once again they moved me so deeply...words can't express it. If they are this gorgeous in the studio, what will they be like onstage? I sincerely hope we will have a chance to find out.
I hated to see the hour drawing to its close, and was feeling deeply grateful to Mr. Lubovitch for his kindness in allowing us to be in the studio today. Attila and Clifton were packing up, beautifully drenched in perspiration; their mutual affection and admiration was so evident: "We used to be rivals," Attila said. "And now we are friends dancing together."
More images from the rehearsal:
All photos by Nir Arieli.