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Hubbard Street Dance earns standing ovation
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Hubbard Street Dance earns standing ovation

by Marian Michener - SGN Contributing Writer

Hubbard Street
Dance Chicago
Paramount Theatre
October 23


The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) took the Paramount Theatre by storm last week. The group is newly under the leadership of Glenn Edgerton as artistic director, formerly mentored by Robert Joffrey. They showed the excellence that makes them so esteemed worldwide. The dancers filled the stage from the floor to the air with an incredible variety of movements. HSDC stands out from their peers in that they are not tied to the work of a single choreographer but are a repertory company, working with numerous choreographers.

The first piece they did, "Lickety-Split," was choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo, who is also a member of the company. It was set to the luscious voice of Bay-Area songwriter Devendra Banhart. The songs were "A Sight to Behold," "This Beard Is For Siobhan," and "Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artisan Mimicry." Three couples danced a range of sensual, fluid pas de deuxs. The dance had some nice surprise twists in the romance. The dancers were lithe and confident.

"The Set," the second piece, was choreographed by Lucas Crandall and was a collaboration with Dirk Denison's 2007 Architecture Studio. It is an example of the partnerships HSDC is noted for establishing with other artists and art organizations in their hometown of Chicago. What stands out about the dance is how creatively it uses the sofa that it is danced on. It tells the story of two men competing for a woman on a couch. At one point, a dancer picks up one end of the divan and slides the other two down it.

The piece consisted of intense flirtatiousness and playful acrobatic movements. The costumes were Victorian, and one of the men was in drag, giving his interactions with the woman Lesbian possibilities. It was a good setting of J. S. Bach's "Violin Concerto in A minor." The dance was well-timed.

The third dance, "Bitter Suite," was choreographed by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo. The first half was set to Felix Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto in E minor." The movements in this section have a mechanical feeling at first, reminiscent of toy soldiers or war games. It develops into manipulative sexual interactions. All the dancers wound up on the floor at the end of that part. The second half was set to Claudio Monteverdi's "Pur Ti Miro" from L'incoronazione di Poppaea. The dancers rose from the floor and danced to the joyful music more smoothly. The dancers beautifully met the challenge of the range of motions the choreography required.

"Gnawa," the fourth piece, was set by the Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato to Spanish and North African sounds from a variety of evocative sources. The dance was delicious in its expression of the music's spirituality. The dancers seemed to fly together with exquisite precision. The whole company danced in this piece.

The audience gave the group a long, hearty standing ovation and many well-deserved bravos.

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