Hubbard Street Dance Chicago delivered a powerful evening of dance, on the opening night of its Season 39 Springs Series at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
The evening began with Lucas Crandall’s Imprint, a stark and physically compelling piece featuring the full company: Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Alice Klock, Emilie Leriche, Adrienne Lipson, Ana Lopez, and Jessica Tong as well as Jesse Bechard, Michael Gross, Elliot Hammans, Jason Hortin, Florian Lochner, David Schultz, and Kevin J. Shannon.
The amazing choreography was inspired in part by stampedes, according to Crandall. The dance was accompanied by live, improvised percussion from Hubbard Street Dancer David Schultz, whose pounding beat gave a rhythm to the chaotic scenes as dancers convulsed in groups, then separated, ran, fell, paused and then stepped over the fallen. The first half of the work evoked an almost futuristic and robotic feel, while the second half was more simple and bare, primitive and untamed, also exposing how crowds build, move and panic.
Choreographed by Nacho Duato, the second piece, Violoncello, from his evening length work, Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness, is a two-act tribute to composer Johann Sebastian Bach, performed to Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major. Captivatingly executed by Ana Lopez and Florian Lochner, Violoncello was a vision of exquisite movement showing the interplay – push and pull - between instrument and composer.
Earthy, muted yet evoking the passion of struggle, the next dance Jardí Tancat (Catalonian for “Closed Garden), also created by Duato, is based on a collection of ancient Spanish folk songs recorded by vocalist María del Mar Bonet. Hauntingly, three couples: Jacqueline Burnett, Michael Gross, Alicia Delgadillo, Kevin J. Shannon, Jessica Tong, and Jesse Bechard, show the movements of sowing, planting, and threshing, of the barren Catalonian land. Laced throughout the very moving piece is a spirit of perseverance and hope despite the hardships.
Completing the evening’s lineup was Solo Echo by Crystal Pite. It is stunning from its opening moments as glimmering lights filter down on a solo figure who is eventually joined by other dancers in very familial and interconnected movements. Dancers for Solo Echo included: Jesse Bechard, Jacqueline Burnett, Alicia Delgadillo, Michael Gross, Jason Hortin, Emilie Leriche, and Florian Lochner.
It “presents a man reckoning with himself at the end of his life,” explains 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.”
Hubbard Street Dance’s Season 39 is off to a very commanding start with an impressive body of work in its Spring Series. Part of a three-part program, additional series performances include: DANC(E)VOLVE: New Works Festival May 11–14, 2017 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Summer Series, June 8–11, 2017 at the Harris Theater.
Season 39 three-series subscriptions are available online at hubbardstreetdance.com/subscribe.
Set on a simple stage with deep techno music, A Glimpse Inside a Shared Story by Yin Yue is a powerful and controlled showing from all of the dancers. The fabric that makes up the costumes is muted and fluid, only showcasing the smooth movement even more. At times, when the group was onstage, is seemed a bit out of sync, but the solo performances left little to be desired. The ease in which the dancers made the complicated, strong and controlled movement is incredible as it is almost unnoticed. The entire ballet felt like anticipation; like the music was building up to something more, though it never quite go to that point.
Robyn Mineko Williams returns with 2014's Waxing Moon and the trio of Andrew Murdock, Jacqueline Burnett, and Jason Hortin prove their talent in the emotionally charged piece. A man is battling the demons within his own mind, struggling with the good and the bad, the positive and negative thoughts that we all face. At times he succumbs to the dark thoughts only to later be slowly coaxed back with hope and lights. The piece relates to anyone who has found dark corners in their mind and had to fight their way out.
Out of Keeping by Penny Saunders is a bright and exciting ballet, reminiscent of a watercolor painting. Pairs of dancers in bright colors come to the stage, at times seemingly battling for the attention of the audience, other times reveling in their own space on the canvas. It is an uplifting and fast paced ballet that is enjoyable and well danced by all.
By far the most moving piece of the series Solo Echo by Crystal Pite utilizes the whole stage, bringing snow indoors for the performance. The dancers don cargo pants and vests, and seem to be grieving old memories of friends or family. At times watching the memories fade away and then trying to bring them back one last time. The dancers exude energy and emotion throughout the whole piece, making it exhilarating to watch, and almost exhausting at the end.
The Hubbard Street Winter Series is a compelling ballet from the company playing at Harris Theatre through Sunday. At times there is room for some polish, but overall the works are well rounded and compelling.