Othello

The American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, May 22.

Watching Lar Lubovitch’s adaptation of the story of Othello, you can tell that he has choreographed for ice skaters as well as dancers. On several occasions, a male dancer spins in place, the centripetal force of his motion levitating the body of his partner. (Is that centripetal force? I never took physics in high school, and I just wasted several minutes trying in vain to decipher the explanations on the internet. I feel quite ignorant.) You see that effect all the time on a skating rink, but on stage, without the momentum of cutting across the ice, it looks oddly out of place.

More effective, in my eyes, are Lubovitch’s intricate lifts. I love the graceful, seamless way they blend into the pair’s steps, but here, they also amplified the emotions of the story. At the ballet’s outset, Othello and Desdemona moved together as a loving unit, Othello guiding gently and Desdemona arcing her body in innocent bliss. In their final dance, by contrast, those lifts that once looked gentle became domineering, with Desdemona at the mercy of her angry husband.