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« Sideshow Theatre Gives New Meaning to Non-Classic Antigonick Choreographer Winifred Haun's Promise Will Deliver »

Preview Thu Mar 12 2015

Hubbard Street Dance Spring Series Takes the Stage This Weekend

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes warmer weather, melting snow and the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Spring Series, which opens tonight at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.

The five-piece program includes a world premiere of I Am Mister B, a piece by former Hubbard Street dancer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano. Ramírez Sansano created his piece to music he twice previously danced to, Tchaikovsky's third suite for orchestra, as an homage to choreographer George Balanchine. Balanchine used the music for his ballet Themes and Variations in 1947. He is also the "Mister B" referenced in the title of Ramírez Sansano's piece.

Ramírez Sansano danced Balanchine's variations at 19 and again later while dancing in the Netherlands.

"It makes it interesting and challenging," he said. "I had it in mind because the fact of dancing something, it makes you appreciate it more."

Ramírez Sansano last worked in Chicago 19 years ago when he choreographed a piece for Luna Negra. He said since then the idea for this piece has been percolating, and that his creative process has spanned the entirety of those years between first getting the idea and the opportunity to put it on stage. First and foremost, the dance is a celebration -- both of his return to Chicago and Hubbard Street, and of life and dance, as well.

"The feeling the audience should have while and when they go home...is a feeling of excitement," Ramírez Sansano said. "Letting people be there and enjoy the moment, you just feel full."

He said he feels this excitement himself while watching rehearsal. The group worked together for three weeks in January, followed by the two-and-a-half-weeks prior to opening night.

The set appears as a torso, the dance showcasing what is inside Mr. B's heart. The dancers perform clad in Balanchine-esque attire. He said he came into rehearsal with about 90 percent of the piece clear in his head. The rest came from working with the dancers.

Through the movement, he wants the audience to feel joy, similar to how Ramírez Sansano felt the first time he danced to this music.

"In the time we live in, it's all bad news," he said. "As humans we need a break and something that makes us closer to good thoughts." As to these thoughts, during his piece he hopes people forget for a moment and, "they fly a little bit."

In addition to Ramírez Sansano's piece, the program includes Sarabande and Falling Angels by Jiří Kylián, Cloudless by Alejandro Cerrudo and A Picture of You Falling by Crystal Pite.

Overall, the program's pieces move from extreme and emotional to cold and mechanical, mixing high energy and quiet and playing with gender roles. While these pieces differ in texture and feel, they all originate from a classical place.

"The linchpin of the program in Balanchine," Hubbard Street Dance manager of communications Zachary Whittenburg said. Like Ramírez Sansano, these choreographers all have their own relationships and connections to him. Whittenburg added that although the company is sometimes known for providing a somewhat challenging listening experience, audiences can expect a more tuneful program this spring.

"This is a particular melodic collection of pieces," he said. He also noted the way in which the classical sound ties to the underpinnings of the movement. The dancers are "all really versed in classical technique, but working with contemporary ideas," Whittenburg said. "It's a continuation and lineage and heritage of craft... let's honor the fact that ballet continues."

The show runs tonight at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. For ticket information click here.

 
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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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