Chicago Dance Review: DANC(E)VOLVE (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at MCA)

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by Lawrence Bommer on May 11, 2017

in Dance,Theater-Chicago


It’s a night of dance discoveries. Four Chicago-based choreographers create a splendid showcase in danc(e)volve, two world premieres and two nearly new offerings at the appropriate Museum of Contemporary Art. Celebrating Hubbard Street’s 39th season, a quartet of well-motivated movements puts the young troupe through perilous paces.

These works are often deliberately disconnected–the performers from each other or from the music or just isolated by their own breakthroughs and breakdowns. Example A is Julia Rhoads’ Cadence with its loose-limbed informality. The first world premiere, Cadence features eleven dancers who initially warm up, goofing and joking around. Lit by footlights and sometimes becoming their own shadows, they soon find their own formations.

Pairings, both hetero- and homoerotic, morph into seeming simulations of trust-building exercises, controlled falls and bonding lifts. Sitting on each other, they invent their own merry, millipede-like conveyance. Moving to a harmonica’s strains or just silence, humming, singing and vocalizing to make their own music, they indulge in minglings that soon become entwinings.

With its playfully satirical touches, Cadence unintendedly mirrors Joffrey Ballet’s recent Joy, another free-form exercise in apparent improvisation. But, cuter than is convincing, this piece risks being cloying, as if they’re doing it for themselves more than for us.

Richly textured, Hubbard’s mainstage debut is Penny Saunders’ elaborate duet Berceuse. On opening night it was engagingly interpreted by Jacqueline Burnett and David Schultz to a lovely selection from Benjamin Godard’s 1888 opera Jocelyn. Resisting the sentiment of the score, the dancers flow together and apart in a rhapsodic counterpoint to Godard’s passionate and intimate notes.

The second mainstage premiere, Clan(device) is Alice Klock’s 2016 salute to survival, an atmospheric, eclectically paced offering to compositions by Loess, Apparat, and Yasume. Energetic to exuberant, five dancers, revolving around the stage, seem to struggle with unseen forces in wounded tableaux. It ends abruptly, the lights instantly extinguished as the men run in full stride, heading for the house.

Concluding with the second world premiere, the 105-minute program reaches lyrical intensity and ingenious couplings with Cloudline by Robyn Mineko Williams. The action begins and ends with seven dancers wafting a billowing silk swatch above anguished soloists. Caught up in a tango-like score by six composers, the performers manipulate each other with healing gestures and rapid reversals.

Enthralling entangled, they become “wearable partners,” intimately interacting in lifts and carries. One male dancer seems convulsed with palpable pain, his contortions like galvanic shocks from invisible electrodes. Hectic with compulsive running and turbulent twirls, Cloudline is persuasively hectic. The passions it invokes churn like clouds, and defy the music as much as embrace it. Evolving dance indeed.

photos by Todd Rosenberg







Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s New Works Festival
Edlis Neeson Theater at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave.
ends on May 14, 2017
for tickets, call 312-850-9744 or visit Hubbard

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