At the opening night gala performance for Chicago Dancing Festival on Monday, co-founder/co-artistic director Lar Lubovitch spoke so beautifully about dance and the art of the duet. I asked his PR firm if I could obtain a copy of the poem or essay he read from only to find out that Mr. Lubovitch wrote it himself. Here is an excerpt from his speech:
For all of the effort to do so, one cannot authentically describe dance in words, no matter how eloquent the speaker. In fact, only dance in action can describe itself. It’s a language for the eyes, for those who can see, and a sensation of the heart, for those who can feel. By the same token, it is useless to attempt to sum up in words the essence of a duet. Its meaning is embodied by its action.
Of course, language is indispensable before the act of dance can be committed. Through hours of practice two dancers in a duet become sublimely sensitive to the transmission of the subtlest physical sensation. And to arrive at that destination, a deluge of language has been employed, parsing words to the nth degree in order to reach their objective. But when the resulting movement illuminates what many words have contrived to describe, no further language is necessary – or even possible. It is then that the dancers have established the bond of trust that enables them to be free to risk everything in the hands of the other with wordless abandon.
But when the performance arrives, at the end of all the words and all the work, all former understandings fly out the door and the reality of the stage steps in. Now the air is charged with an unfamiliar energy. A black void exists where a mirror once stood. The heart rate is altered and powerful shafts of light press on their bodies. Now is the moment when speech is useless and only action counts, when the dancers minds and therefore their bodies must meet in perfect synchrony. Once the curtain goes up and the journey has begun, they must negotiate the thicket of possibilities without a word.
This tension – this energy – this profound act of trust between two beings has been at the heart and soul of nearly every dance ever choreographed. It is the moment when all the frenzied group action subsides and two dancers become one in a profound exhibition of freedom through trust that the human spirit is revealed and the essence of dance is made apparent. It would not be incorrect to say that the essence of dance, and in fact all of art, is inherently love, but it would be even more accurate to say it is about belief. The belief that all artists share, that through acts of dedication and imagination there is the possibility of a better way and therefore, a better world.