Precise execution with bewitching energy
|Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents|
|Hubbard Street Winter Series|
Review by Lauren Whalen
Even the tiniest movement has great significance in the hands (and feet) of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Each company member possesses an extraordinary balance of technical precision and bone-deep contemplation. The renowned company’s Winter Series presents four distinctive pieces that demand ultimate focus from the audience – but reward with rich satisfaction.
The evening’s opening dance, “Untouched” begins with one woman in front of a heavy red curtain. Fritz Masten costumed the dancers in jewel tones with vibrant patterns, befitting the dramatic piano, saxophone and viola score. “Untouched” has a wonderful build, progressing from solo energies that join together into a full ensemble, while maintaining individual strength. Choreographer Aszure Barton collaborated with each original cast member independently, and two years after its premiere, “Untouched” retains a very personal feel that reaches the audience without feeling indulgent. The piece is at once reflective and active, as dancers alternate between silently drawing from one another’s energy and audibly stomping and clapping to a short, powerful ending. Standouts include Meredith Dincolo, whose extensions go on for days, and Alejandro Cerrudo, who performs with the magnetism and generosity of a latter-day Baryshnikov.
Cerrudo is also Hubbard Street’s first-ever Resident Choreographer, and the show progresses with two of his works. With heavy, rumbling piano music, “Blanco” features four women under four individual spotlights. “Blanco” is brief but extremely meticulous: there’s no hiding behind a partner or group, and each dancer must rely on her own strength and knowledge. Even Branimara Ivanova’s costume design of simple gray leotards leaves nothing hidden. It’s a dancer’s dream and nightmare – more or less a solo, but incredibly demanding – and each moves with the fluid strength that is a Hubbard Street trademark.
Just as in “Blanco”, nothing in Cerrudo’s “PACOPEPELUTO” is left to the imagination. Three male dancers perform solos to Dean Martin hits – wearing nothing but dance belts. It’s an unexpected “costume” choice for the music, but a fun one. Matt Miller’s warm, low lighting recalls a sensuous summer evening with endless possibilities. Cerrudo’s steps sweep the stage, fast-paced and seemingly spontaneous with his signature sense of humor, and the dancers’ athletic commitment transposed with goofy demeanors makes the piece a crowd favorite. Think “Magic Mike” with better movement and more wit.
The company premiere of “Casi-Casa” is the performance’s final piece and its longest, at 40 minutes. In a composition of two earlier works plus original steps, Swedish master choreographer Mats Ek uses a domestic setting and the music of Fleshquartet to explore what goes on behind an apartment’s closed doors. “Casi-Casa” finds fascination in the mundane, whether it’s wrestling with a vacuum cleaner, squabbling with one’s partner or yelling at the television. Ek’s choreography – inspired by the “social staging” of everyday human interaction – has an edge that isn’t often found in American dances, and Hubbard Street rises to the challenge. Jacqueline Burnett and Jonathan Fredrickson are well-matched in a rare sentimental pas de deux, Burnett’s expressive face and body complementing Fredrickson’s catlike grace.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy for the mind to wander. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago guides its audience back to the moment. Even as my eyes are welling up at the pure beauty in front of me, I can’t look away. And when the lights come up after curtain call, I want to stay under the spell. As a company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is nothing short of bewitching.
Winter Series continues through December 9th at Millennium Park’s Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph (map). Tickets are $25-$99, and are available by phone (312-850-9744) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at HubbardStreetDance.com. (Running time: 2 hours, includes two intermissions)
Photos by Todd Rosenberg
Note: Performers for individual pieces vary by performance.
Garrett Patrick Anderson, Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Alejandro Cerrudo, Meredith Dincolo, Kellie Epperheimer, Jonathan Fredrickson, Jason Hortin, Alice Klock, Ana Lopez, Johnny McMillan, Laura O’Malley, Pablo Piantino, Penny Saunders, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, Jessica Tong, Quinn B. Wharton
behind the scenes
For Hubbard Street Dance Chicago:
Glenn Edgerton (Artistic Director), Jason Palmquist (Executive Director), Lou Conte (Founder), Taryn Kaschock Russell (Director, HS2), Terence Marling (Rehearsal Director), Kristen Brogdon (General Manager), Alejandro Cerrudo (Resident Choreographer), Claire Bataille (Director, Lou Conte Dance Studio), Ishanee DeVas (Company Manager), Matt Miller (Lighting/Technical Director and Interim Production Manager), Rebecca Shouse (Wardrobe Supervisor), Penny Saunders (Rehearsal Assistant), Kilroy G. Kundalini (Audio Engineer), Aprill C. Clements (Stage Manager, Properties Master), Stephen Panek (Head Carpenter), Sam Begich (Master Electrician)
Aszure Barton (Choreography – in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dancers), Jonathan Alsberry (Assistant to the Choreographer), Njo Kong Kie/Curtis Macdonald/Ljova (Music), Nicole Pearce (Lighting Design), Fritz Masten (Costume Design)
Mats Ek (Choreography), Fleshquartet (Music), Mariko Aoyama/Ana Laguna (Choreographer’s Assistants for Staging), Peder Freiji (Costume and Set Design), Erik Berglund (Lighting Design)