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Dance Tue Dec 15 2015

Hubbard Street Dance Winter Series Dazzles


Hubbard Street 2 dancer Adrienne Lispon. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presented a holiday treat this weekend with its Season 38 Winter Series, performed Thursday through Sunday.

The show consisted of two world premieres and one US premiere, as well as a Hubbard Street favorite.

The show featured the US premiere of Crystal Pite's Solo Echo, created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2012. The piece is inspired by Mark Strand's poem, Lines for Winter.

The piece "presents a man reckoning with himself at the end of his life," said Pite. "The character is echoed--copied, reiterated, by seven different dancers. He is portrayed through both male and female bodies, and through various physiques and strengths. Each performer is a distinct and nuanced version of the character, and the connections between them evoke a man coming to terms with himself."

Pite's choreography is spellbinding. It runs the emotional gamut, and the dancers hit the mark.The entire piece is exceedingly expressive. The dancing is quick paced and captivating.The piece is expansive and intricate, yet accessible, danced before the backdrop of a steady snowfall. They danced with such awareness of each other, such tenderness and beauty.

At times both serious and playful, Pite puts up a mirror to life: the triumphs, the turmoil, the mundane, and the work of coming to terms with it all as the end closes in. This piece is stark and beautiful. Pite's ability to evoke complex emotions in such a beautiful way is incredible.

Solo Echo was not only my favorite piece of the night, but perhaps my favorite piece of the year.

The show opened with A Glimpse Inside a Shared Story, a world premiere by choreographer Yin Yue performed by members of Hubbard Street 2, joining the main company for the series. Yue is the artistic director of Yun Yue Dance Company and was part of Hubbard Street's International Commissioning Project.

The choreography was athletic, exciting, fast-paced and unique, set to pulsating music. The partnering was especially enjoyable. Viewers get the feeling the dancers are melting into each other in a new and unusual way. It is visually delightful.

The piece felt that, instead of dancers moving to music, the music was infused with the movement in a symbiotic relationship.

The high energy of the piece started to falter in the second half. There was a pair of excellent solos, but the final minutes of the piece had less energy and movement.

The show continued with Waxing Moon by Robyn Mineko Williams, a former Hubbard Street dancer. The three-person piece is her fourth Hubbard Street work.

The choreography is innovative, purposeful, beautiful and elegant. The central figure contemplates his future with the help of two other figures. You feel the tension and dueling parts of self exhibited in this piece as movement mirrors internal battles and contemplations. The dancing is visceral and raw.

Jacqueline Burnett is captivating as one of the outside forces, both alone and when dancing in partnership. With her entrance, the dancing shifts to ethereal as she floats through the piece in grace and strength.

Out of Keeping was choreographed by current Hubbard Street dancer Penny Saunders, in the night's second world premiere. The choreography felt somewhat disjointed and chaotic. The dancers, usually so in sync it seems as though they are telepathically connected, seemed a bit off. The piece did flow as one unit, but the movement and the music lacked cohesion.

As the piece went on, it found its stride, like a puzzle coming together. It broke into a series of duets, with the female duets the most dynamic element of the piece. While perhaps not particularly unique, the duets--especially the first--were beautiful, graceful and seamless.

The piece ended with the same feeling of disjointedness it had in the beginning, without a central theme or emotion to anchor itself around. However, given the talent of Hubbard Street's dancers, the piece was still enjoyable to watch.

"Two of my core missions as Hubbard Street's artistic director have been to bring the best choreography from the world's stages to our audiences and dancers here in Chicago," said Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton. "This Winter Series program is a great example, with two terrific contributions coming from longtime associates Penny Saunders and Robyn Mineko Williams, alongside a brilliant work created by a Canadian choreographer in the Netherlands and the exciting new voice of an artist who divides her time between New York City and Nanchang, China."

 
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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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