New Works Festival
Choreography by Andrew Wright, Penny Saunders,
Breathtaking but long-winded
|Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents|
|danc(e)volve: New Works Festival|
Review by Lauren Whalen
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s annual festival of new works, danc(e)volve, celebrates innovation in choreography, providing an outlet for new pieces and a spotlight for the dancers in both the resident company and its farm team, Hubbard Street 2. This year’s danc(e)volve makes excellent use of MCA’s stage and showcases the company’s recent overseas trip. It’s enjoyable as always, with a few real standouts, but at two and a half hours feels like a very long evening.
In addition to the festival’s six new pieces, Hubbard Street presents the short film “Beyond Africa”, a compilation of photographs, video footage and voiceover chronicling select company members’ recent trip to Morocco, Spain and Algiers. I’m torn about the inclusion of the film. On the one hand, it’s a powerful testament to the transcendence of art. Though Jason Hortin’s editing could use some work and some of the voiceovers are a bit awkward, some clips – such as when the company members and an Algerian group create a fusion piece and then, because of a cultural blackout due to a political leader’s death, simply perform for each other – are phenomenal to watch. On the other hand, the film added a good 20 minutes to an already lengthy production. Perhaps it could have been showcased on Hubbard Street’s website, or at a fundraising event.
“Adalea” is a major highlight of this year’s festival. The 15-minute piece was choreographed by Hubbard Street company member Penny Saunders during her pregnancy (in fact, Adalea was to be the baby’s name had he been a girl). Out of the evening’s six pieces, “Adalea” feels the newest. Through a series of vignettes accompanies by sung Vivaldi, spoken word and classical instrumentals, Saunders explores components of the human experience with humor and grace. Clad in Rebecca M. Shouse’s pale green, white and gray costumes, the cast plays with chairs, shadows and each other. Everyone projects a sense of daring fun, and though spoken-word can get a bit tired as modern dance accompaniment, Saunders uses it well here.
Company member Jonathan Fredrickson created “For the Wandered”, another danc(e)volve standout. Here’s another smart use of spoken word (original text by Fredrickson and dancer Alice Klock) combined with classical music. Dancers navigate and handle small props that resemble mountain peaks, or waves, telling a story of dreams, innocence and the feeling of being lost. Fredrickson’s steps are fluid and organic, projecting passion, desperation and fear, as well as the more troubling aspects of childhood. The cast is incredible, almost boneless, especially Klock, whose hands and feet tell entire stories.
As always, danc(e)volve is worth the price of admission just to see Hubbard Street’s phenomenal array of talent. These dancers aren’t just physically capable, they are smart and thoughtful, infusing every gesture, extension and pointed toe with pure poetry. The company’s annual festival of new works emphasizes the importance of innovation and thinking ahead, because in art, there is always more room to learn and grow. Despite an overly long running time, danc(e)volve is yet another example of why Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a challenge, a wonder and a treasure.
danc(e)volve continues through June 16th at MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater, 220 E. Chicago (map), with Saturday and Sunday at 7:30pm. Tickets are $35, and are available by phone (312-397-4010) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at HubbardStreetDance.com. (Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Todd Rosenberg
Casts for individual pieces vary by performance.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: 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
Hubbard Street 2: Brandon Lee Alley, Alicia Delgadillo, Jules Joseph (apprentice), Katie Kozul (apprentice), Emilie Lereche, Felicia McBride, Lissa Smith, Richard Walters, Andrew Wright
behind the scenes
For Hubbard Street Dance Chicago:
Glenn Edgerton (Artistic Director), Jason Palmquist (Executive Director), Lou Conte (Founder), Terence Marling (Director, HS2), Kristen Brogdon (General Manager), Lucas Crandall (Rehearsal Director), Alejandro Cerrudo (Resident Choreographer), Joseph Futral (Production Manager), Ishanee DeVas (Company Manager), Matt Miller (Lighting, Technical Director), Rebecca M. Shouse (Wardrobe Supervisor), Kilroy G. Kundalini (Audio Engineer), Stephen Panek (Head Carpenter), Sam Begich (Master Electrician), Bill Melamed (Chief Marketing and Development Officer), Marisa Santiago (Touring Coordinator and HS2 Company Manager), Todd Rosenberg (photos)
For “For the Wandered”:
For “Grey Horses”: