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Dance Mon Oct 20 2014

The Second City & Hubbard Street Dance's Collaboration is a Stunning Success

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The first collaboration between Hubbard Street Dance and The Second City started with one small phone call, but it grew into a giant success with The Art of Falling.

The roughly two-hour show is full of laugh-out-loud moments, strategic and exceptionally creative dance movements and sharp writing and delivery by Second City actors. The show is directed by Billy Bungeroth of Second City and was worked on by the largest creative team in the history of Hubbard Street Dance.

As the title suggests, the show revolves around stories of falling: falling in and out of love, falling from the sky and falling down in general. It additionally, as perhaps expected, pokes fun at dance and comedy in turn, but showcasing differences between the two groups is not the main point. Rather, the focus is on what the different artists accomplish together.

The Second City members and Hubbard Street dancers work seamlessly together. It is not The Second City then Hubbard Street, acting then dancing. Every piece meshes together, and nobody ever looks out of place.

I was most taken with the creative use of the dancers. Instead of dancing along to the story The Second City actors tell, the dancers become part of the narrative, whether in the form of office furniture, a merry-go-round, or, in one piece that really had the audience laughing, an inflatable doll, expertly played by Alicia Delgadillo.

Hubbard Street Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton gets in on the fun, as well, speaking in the opening video, joining the opening dance and jumping up on stage to close the show.

The Second City actors touch on topics such as love, fear, death and self-discovery in a comical yet meaningful way through skits, songs and this time, dance. While there are a lot of laughs, there are poignant moments, too, especially during the relationship ups and downs of Joey Bland and Travis Turner playing a comedian and a dancer.

Of the 20 scenes, only one is solely dance. An excerpt from Second to Last, choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo, opens the second act. While perhaps not in keeping with the laugh-inducing nature of the other pieces, it reminds the audience of what Hubbard Street dancers can do. The movement is strong yet soft, technical yet effortless. These dancers are storytellers. They do not execute choreography. Rather, they live in the movement, telling stories with their bodies.

My favorite part about The Art of Falling was that it doesn't hold back. Both groups pushed their creativity, resulting in masterful and hysterical moments, such as an office chair ballet in the story of a temp, played by Carisa Barreca, learning the ropes of her new office.

The show culminates in a full ensemble piece showing that taking risks can be scary, but it's okay to fall as long as you get back up. And sometimes the risk is well worth it.
The moment the show ended, the audience was on its feet, and for good reason. The Art of Falling has laughter, tender moments and strong and precise movement. The result of The Second City and Hubbard Street Dance coming together is pure brilliance and extreme entertainment.

I sincerely hope this is not the last collaboration we see between these two iconic Chicago companies.

The five-night series at the Harris Theater ended Sunday. See Hubbard Street's website for information about the rest of the 2014-15 season.

 
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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

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