In a recent interview with The New York Times‘ Gia Kourlas, Lar Lubovitch talks about his latest work, Coltrane’s Favorite Things, which premieres tonight at The Joyce. In this work, Lubovitch illuminates parallels in the works of two renowned artists. A recording of John Coltrane Quartet’s live performance of “My Favorite Things” accompanies Lubovitch’s choreography while a reproduction of Pollock’s 1950 work “Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)” serves as a backdrop for the dance.
In the program notes, Mr. Lubovitch–a former art major who affirms a life-long affinity for jazz and credits a John Coltrane rendition of Richard Rodgers’ “My Favorite Things” as the inspiration for this new work–says:
“In its time, the music of John Coltrane was described as “sheets of sound,” due to the overall aural environment created by his wall-to-wall, top-to-bottom, constancy of sound. Simultaneously, artists like Jackson Pollock were creating paintings depicting an overall visual environment for which the entire surface of the canvas itself was the subject. The term coined to describe this was “action field” painting. To tether Coltrane’s “sheets of sound” to Pollock’s “field of action,” I have arranged ribbons of movement.”
On its website, The Metropolitan Museum of Art refers to Pollock’s work using phrases we often associate with dance: “a dense lyrical composition,” “dynamic visual rhythms and sensations—buoyant, heavy, graceful, arcing, swirling, pooling lines of color—are direct evidence of the very physical choreography of applying the paint with the artist’s new methods.”
“In Pollock’s paintings action was happening everywhere,” Mr. Lubovitch said. “There wasn’t a vase in the middle or a nude on the couch. Coltrane’s sheets of sound and Pollack’s field of action were very much the same thing, one expressed aurally and the other visually.” Spontaneity was a critical element for both artists. For Pollock, there was “no central point of focus, no hierarchy of elements” as paint is poured, dripped, dribbled, flicked, and splattered across the canvas. Coltrane’s extremely dense improvisational style packed note upon note with high speed arpeggios played in rapid succession.
Watch and listen as the unparalleled jazz musician employs his unique style to produce “sheets of sound” in this 1961 recording of “My Favorite Things.”
In the New York Times article, Gia Kourlas explains how Lubovitch ties these concepts together choreographically, “by creating what he calls “ribbons of movement,” in which the steps aren’t as crucial as the energetic way motion flows and undulates. Katarzyna Skarpetowska, a dancer in Mr. Lubovitch’s company, characterized the motion as wavy and almost lazy — with just a hint of bite.”
Experience the convergence of all of these elements on The Joyce stage now through Mar 7. Tickets are available for purchase here.