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Dance Fri Jun 04 2010

From Ethereal Grace to Crimson Passion, HDSC's Summer Series Impresses

After viewing Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Summer Series, which opened last night, June 3, 2010 at Harris Theater, I can't help but feel a lingering sense of enchantment. HSDC showcased the remarkable range of its dancers with the comic yet ethereal "Bitter Suite," the intoxicating world premiere of "Untouched," and the athletically-demanding "Bordo."


A scene from "Untouched." Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Jorma Elo's opening piece "Bitter Suite," updated since it was first performed by HSDC in 2009, provided a welcome last-minute change to the company's program line-up. Elo's choreography for eight dancers perfectly proportioned both quirkiness and pure elegance. With lifts appearing so deceptively effortless and movements impossibly fluid, there were times I felt as though I were watching an underwater ballet. Yet, just as I became swept away by the graceful beauty of the choreography, comedic and ironic steps would break the spell; repeatedly, I went from silently mesmerized to laughing aloud. The humorous puppeteering of HSDC dancers and accentuation of the body's hard angles somehow became perfectly natural extensions of the sinuous classical ballet lines, and the backdrop of Mendelssohn and Monteverdi compositions.

Following "Bitter Suite," the premiere of Aszure Barton's "Untouched" felt like pure indulgence. Luxuriously sensual, both costuming and choreography combined to accentuate feminine curves and female sexuality. These were in turn heightened by the deep crimson curtains serving as both frame and backdrop for the dancers, as well as the corresponding red lighting and dramatic music. The Spanish flair of the piece was immediately recognizable, and the seductive, tango-esque undercurrents persisted throughout. The piece featured two pas de deux, during which bodies intertwined in graceful, luxurious entanglements. Barton's piece was intoxicating and satisfying, like a decadent dessert.

In fact, when Toru Shimazaki's "Bardo" began, I felt as though I were being jarred from a pleasant dream (even after the brief intermission between the two pieces). The opening scene included repetitious head-banging movements and running set against vibrant international rhythms which contrasted starkly against the style and mood of "Untouched." After mentally adjusting, however, I was able to appreciate the physical demands of the piece, and the athleticism of HSDC's dancers. The minimalist set, punctuated by expert lighting design highlighted the dynamic movements of the dancers. Even the work's moments of meditation and prayerful music never quite drew attention away from the humanness of the piece.

Altogether an impressive line-up that quickly scoops up the viewer and sweeps her away, HSDC's Summer Series further proves why this company is a favorite in Chicago and beyond. What a perfect way to cap off the dancing season.

The Summer Series runs through Sunday, June 6. The company performs at the Harris Theater on Friday, June 4 at 8pm; Saturday, June 5 at 8pm; and Sunday, June 6 at 3pm. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased at or through the HSDC ticket office at 312-850-9744.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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