Chicago Dance Review: HUBBARD STREET DANCE CHICAGO (Season 41 Winter Series at the Harris)

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by Lawrence Bommer on December 7, 2018

in Dance,Theater-Chicago


Four world premieres, especially crafted by in-house choreographers for the skills and needs of their company colleagues, display a tales-within-tales meld of individuality within synchronicity, a deepening of dance that’s more than conceptual. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s current Winter Series, a part of their ongoing dance(e)volve program, plays only through this weekend at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. It’s worth seeing, if only as a state-of-the-art bench mark for an intriguingly confessional type of movement, with many solo and duo stories hinted at as part of a complicated cohesion (or lack thereof).

Das Feld, the first offering, is choreographer Florence Lochner’s very personal soundscape of taped talk amid the dysfunctional physicality of nine dancers. Performed against an aural backdrop of insistent, overlapping and sometimes maddeningly mumbled confessions and an eclectic musical accompaniment, it suggests depictions of aerobic classes, hopping or improvised rehearsal routines, and a turning and twisting of relationships in constant flux.

At times this combination of glib narration and frenetic bustle resembles a string of narcissistic Facebook postings as much as a statement in motion—so many minglings toward no perceptible purpose. But the final line—“It’s our business to take care of each other”—retroactively pulls together the anarchic elements, which Lochner means to slowly evolve from death to life. It may not really come together but the journey seemed worth taking.

Fold Me, created by Alice Klock, employs five dancers in dynamically different red costumes and concealed by hoodies. Following their own puzzling paths, they probe the possibility of “multiple versions of the self refracted over dimensions, time and space.” As the patter of rain alternates with music, we see a series of near-misses and close brushes between these alternate versions. The hoodies, it seems, keep them from slipping from one incarnation to another. The piece presents the dancers’ imaginative, if relentlessly random, ideas of what and who they would be in these not so parallel universes.

The final new works, invented by Lochner and Rena Butler, were even more crowd-pleasing and collective. The well-named Common Thread uses a great group of student dancers from Hubbard’s 2018 and 2019 Professional Program. They indulge in a closely-coordinated series of unison dancing who come together and break apart in constantly varied juxtapositions.

Likewise with the extremely successful III.Third, easily the most moving movements in this evening of ensemble rapport. Roughly exploring the interplay of gender and sexuality in the development of identity, this sprawling creation used original songs by Darryl J. Hoffman to present couples who split up, huge gatherings of rolling, gyrating, swaying, running, circling and writhing artists caught up in a pulsating and repetitive mix of violence and mystery.

A kind of “survival guide” for an overly connected but far from congenial world, this intricate work features diverse revelations from company members who came here as immigrants. They’re fused in the elaborate patterns fused by this huge corps. It all ends serenely with a sweet ballad by R&B artist H.E.R. that captures and completes these mystical wanderings.

photos by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Season 41 Winter Series
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Millennium Park, 205 East Randolph St
ends on December 9, 2018
for tickets, call 312-850-9744
or visit Hubbard Street Dance

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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