By Lawrence Budmen

Lar Lubovitch has been a major choreographic force in American dance for four decades. Dvorak Serenade, one of his most recent ballets, received its local premiere by Ballet Florida this weekend. 

Telegraphing the surging lyricism of four movements from Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings in surprising and emotionally intense patterns, Lubovitch’s creative flame continues to soar.

Combining a modernist aesthetic with the cascading lyricism of the music, Lubovitch has reinvented the romantic ballet in sparkling 21st century terms. At times his curves and joyous ensemble movements seem to contradict the musical line, particularly in the Valse section. 

The work’s most powerful imagery occurs in the soulful Larghetto, a sensual pas de deux of transformative poetic beauty. At Saturday’s performance at the Kravis Center, Marife Gimenez and Douglas Gawriljuk reached new heights in a seamless display of Lubovitch’s ruminative magic, a star turn by two great dancers. 

In the finale, Lubovitch combines 19th century balletic vocabulary with pop culture references. At once contemporary and classic, Dvorak Serenade is a new masterpiece by a timeless genius. 

Trey McIntyre may be the answer to the dance world’s search for a new Twyla Tharp or Mark Morris. This tremendously gifted choreographer has scored locally with impressive works for Miami City Ballet and Ballet Florida. His 1996 ballet Seconds Before the Ground is a flashback of the cycle of life before dying with a tangy, rhythmic score by the iconoclastic Kronos Quartet. 

Yumelia Garcia and Markus Schaffer displayed showmanship in the opening comedic, off balance duo. In a light, playful pas de deux, Tina Martin and Gary Lenington’s awesome partnering was riveting. 

The exhilarating finale hints at death and rebirth. This rousing, original work may herald the dawn of a new American master. 

Amid the billowing clouds of Matthew Jacobs’ set, Ben Stevenson’s Four Last Songs is a sweeping recreation of Richard Strauss’ valedictory score. Unlike Hans von Manen’ s super impassioned, prettified setting of this music for Dutch National Ballet, Stevenson’s choreography makes a virtue of simplicity, producing images of unexpected beauty. 

The opening Spring duo of the sensational Stephanie Rapp and Schaffer surges across the stage with thrilling impact. Lorena Jimenez and Gawriljuk soared in the third movement, a poignant vision of transfiguration. The British born Stevenson has absorbed the dance vocabulary of Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan and infused it with new life and vibrancy. 

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