The work of a maestro
|Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents|
|Summer Series 2015|
Review by Lauren Whalen
Alejandro Cerrudo is not so much an artist as a maestro. Under his watchful eye, each brush of a dancer’s foot, set concept and costume decision is so carefully thought out and executed that it radiates unabashed passion. Cerrudo began choreographing for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2006, became the company’s first resident choreographer in 2009, and made Hubbard Street’s first full-length work, One Thousand Pieces (my review ★★★★), in 2012. An overachiever to the end, he’s also a prominent performer. It’s only fitting that Hubbard Street’s Summer Series is an evening-length celebration of Cerrudo, who’s broken endless ground for Hubbard Street and the world of dance – and includes a stunning world premiere.
The program begins with Extremely Close, which premiered in 2008 and has since been restaged by companies nationwide and in Cerrudo’s native Spain. The piano-centric score courtesy of Philip Glass and Dustin O’Halloran is the perfect backdrop for Cerrudo’s clearly articulated movements, amplified by his simple but powerful set design featuring moving flats that add a touch of magic as the dancers disappear and reappear from behind them. Janice Pytel’s costume design features black leotards with flashes of dark blue, making the dancers and their beautifully taut bodies and Cerrudo’s choreography the true stars of the piece. The dancers are at once precise as scalpels and vessels of sweeping emotion as they glide and snap to the waterfall of musical notes.
Next is the world premiere of Cerrudo’s latest, Still in Motion. What’s most remarkable about the new piece is Cerrudo’s use of silence to supplement the music of artists from Chopin to Norah Jones. At first I wondered if there was an issue with the sound board, but the dancers were so perfectly synched with one another that when the music finally came up, I realized it was intentional. Both choreographer and dancers possess impeccable timing, and Still in Motion is rife with the little surprises and big moments that together are Cerrudo’s bailiwick. At its worst, modern dance is overwrought emotion expressed through exaggerated movement. At is best, as is the case with Cerrudo’s work, modern dance is intelligent and challenging, but never forgets its sense of fun.
Fun abounds in the final piece of the night, Little mortal jump. I was in the audience the night of its 2012 premiere and still remember gasping in surprise when dancer Kevin J. Shannon ran up the aisle, just feet from where I sat. Though I’ve seen Little mortal jump several times since then, that sense of childlike wonder – “look! He’s right there!” – never goes away. The piece has the feel of a silent movie, from its black, white and gray color scheme to the comic-tragic storyline. Cerrudo pushes these dancers to act, no easy feat while executing such complex choreography, and they rise to the occasion, with facial expressions and mannerisms as delightful as their dancing. Three years after its premiere, Little mortal jump continues to push the boundaries of audience expectations, while emanating warmth, grace and, most importantly, relatability.
Reviews of Cerrudo’s work, glowing as they may be, barely scratch the surface. To get the full experience, one must attend a Hubbard Street performance – or several. Whether he’s manipulating office chairs to the Swan Lake theme (as seen in last fall’s glorious The Art of Falling) or sticking Velcro to his dancers and set pieces, Cerrudo continues to amaze. Hopefully this international treasure is in Chicago to stay.
Summer Series 2015 continues through June 14th at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph (map). Tickets are $52-$94, 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: cast varies according to performance.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: Garrett Patrick Anderson, Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Alejandro Cerrudo, Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Epperheimer, Jonathan Fredrickson, Michael Gross, Jason Hortin, Alice Klock, Emilie Leriche, Ana Lopez, Johnny McMillan, Andrew Murdock, Jane Rehm, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon, Jessica Tong
Hubbard Street 2: Zachary Enquist, Elliot Hammans, Jules Joseph, Katie Kozul, Adrienne Lipson, Andrea Thompson,
HS2 Apprentices: Katlin Michael Bourgeois, Natalie Leibert, Megan Myers
behind the scenes
For Hubbard Street Dance Chicago:
Glenn Edgerton (artistic director), Jason D. Palmquist (executive director), Lou Conte (founder), Terence Marling (director, Hubbard Street 2), Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll (general manager), Alejandro Cerrudo (resident choreographer), Claire Bataille (director, Lou Conte Dance Studio), Jason Brown (director of production), Ishanee DeVas (company manager), Kilroy G. Kundalini (audio engineer), Rebecca M. Shouse (wardrobe supervisor), Sam Begich (master electrician), Stephen Panek (head carpenter and stage operations), Marisa C. Santiago (mnager, atistic oerations and HS2 company manager), Julie E. Ballard (stage manager and properties master), Todd Rosenberg (photos)
For Extremely Close:
For Still in Motion:
For Little mortal jump: