Let’s welcome in summer and enjoy the history of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Harris Theater with a collection of eight dances of varying styles and intriguing music. Pieces old and new, reworked and original amazed one after another including Lucas Crandall’s (Imprint - Duet), William Forsythe’s (reproduction of One Flat Thing), Alejandro Cerrudo’s (One Thousand Pieces - Water Section), Jim Vincent’s (Palladio), Crystal Pite’s (A Picture of You Falling), Twyla Tharp’s (The Golden Section), and Lou Conte’s (Georgia and the 40’s).

This historical glance 40-year glance at the iconic dance company brings forth a walk through time and the growth of Hubbard Dance. Lou Conte’s romantic summer love of ‘Georgia’ was originally premiered in 1987 as part of “Rose from the Blues” and makes you ache for the loss of summer love. Even more history is bestowed upon the crowd with the happiness, creativity of the 40’s, also by Conte. Infusing big band music, 40’s style dance, jitterbug moves and the feeling of the celebrations of old Hollywood, the piece is truly a joy to watch.

“The Golden Section” choreographed by Twyla Tharp/Tharp Project, in its golden velour and unabashed 80’s energy that had originally been performed on Broadway in 1981, brought a liveliness and fun to the stage. The enthusiasm and vibrancy had audience members bobbing their heads and giggling along with the sheer fun of the dancer’s movement and energy.

Something for everyone, Hubbard Street’s Summer Series 39 will truly grab your attention with the loving duet of “Imprint” by Lucas Crandall and romantic “Palladio” by Jim Vincent. Theater goers will fall under the mesmerizing spell of the smokiness and ethereal beauty of ghostlike figures and sounds of water in “One Thousand Pieces” by Alejandro Cerrudo. Children and adults alike will be enthralled with the chaotic energy of “One Flat Thing”, in awe of the dancer’s abilities to move between, over, under and through the flat things with such speed, grace and fluidity.

Beautiful and graceful, “A Picture of You Falling” by Crystal Pite will capture the audiences’ attention from start to finish, leaving you out of breath, and wondering, if this is how it really will be in the end.

Through a night of innumerable feelings and experiences, this historical journey into the past of “Hubbard Street Dance at 40”, was a thrill for all families and fans of dance. So very few places can provide such a complete feeling of history and nostalgia while also inspiring all of us to see what the future will bring.

Hubbard Street’s Summer Series 39 was performed at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. For more information on this amazing dance company and to see future events, visit www.HubbardStreetDance.com.

 

Published in Dance in Review

The 9th annual Chicago Dancing Festival came to a close on a rainy Sunday last week with the Dancing Under The Stars performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.  Despite the less than ideal weather for an outdoor performance, there was a good crowd to catch the closing show of the festival, even a few folks camping out on the grass under makeshift tents crafted out of umbrellas.  Overall the show made it worth sitting through a little rain!

 

The show opened with a fantastic mash up of flamenco, Irish Step and tap brought to us by the Chicago Rhythm Project.  With only 6 dancers, sometimes performing 2 at a time, they created a show that sounded and felt as big as a full troupe production. The stage was mic’d perfectly to echo the rhythms throughout the pavilion enabling 6 dancers to create a large and loud performance.

 

I was most excited to see the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater perform Sandpaper Ballet but was left a little disappointed. After a very long overture of Christmas music, 25 or so dancers, clad in one piece costumes that gave the illusion of a clear sky with a few puffy clouds over a luscious green landscape, finally filed onto the stage. There were great moments with intricate and interesting formations but overall it felt flat and a little unrehearsed. Timing was off and the swingy jazz movements that could have really brought the ballet to a fun and whimsical place, seemed like they were being thrown away.

 

The show got back on track with Torrent from the Brian Brooks Moving Company.  The staging was amazing with the movements of the dancers and their formations flowing along with the music brilliantly. Between the score backing up the piece and the constant motion of the dancers, I was absorbed as I watch movements transfer from person to person and flow across the stage.  They were introduced as a returning favorite and they certainly lived up to the title.

 

As a great contrast to the large group pieces, Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak of the American Ballet Theater wowed the audience with a picture perfect pas de deux performance from The Sleeping Beauty. I watched the entire piece with a smile on my face, thinking that it is performances like this that make little girls everywhere want to grow up to be ballerinas!

 

The Miami City Ballet took a turn from their traditional Balanchine style ballet to perform Sweet Fields, choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Set to a series of Shaker hymns, and performed in simple white costumes, it was a moving piece. At times the bounce and flow of the costumes became distracting but overall this piece was elegant, alternating between powerful and serene moments.  And with a lift that elicited a collective gasp from the audience, it certainly captured everyone’s attention.

 

The show ended with a true showstopper and my favorite piece of the night.  The Joffrey Ballet performed In Creases choreographed by Justin Peck. Performed to Philip Glass Four Movements for Two Pianos, which were situated on the stage with the dancers, it was an intricate ballet demonstrating perfect technique combined with movements I have never seen before. It had a breathy quality for a ballet piece and was a great blend of modern and traditional ballet.  This piece alone was worth sitting outside in the rain for and a great end to an overall wonderful performance.

 

 

With another year under their belt, the Chicago Dancing Festival has wrapped up for this year. Having attending two of the performances, I am already looking forward to next years 10th anniversary season. The Dancing Under the Stars performance stood up to the test of Chicago weather, combining traditional ballet, modern ballet, tap, and modern into an eclectic and captivating show. If you missed it this summer, keep your eyes out for shows next summer!

Published in Theatre Reviews

 

 

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